Locals are donating both time and money to help scrub clean the Whittier Community Center after it was vandalized.
Tom Persian, the director of the Whittier Community Center, said he located 40 different instances of spray paint vandalism at the center on Monday night. Since then, 10 to 15 “spontaneous” volunteers have been helping remove the graffiti, and people have cumulatively donated nearly $500.
“I was actually here when it happened,” Persian said, explaining he was renovating a room at the center with his headphones in when he smelled paint and ultimately noticed his car had been vandalized.
The paint on the car and other hard surfaces has been relatively easy to remove, according to Persian. However, other spots have proved more difficult to clean. Persian said the vandals hit a newly installed soft rubber flooring on the playground that is sensitive to pressure washers or harsh chemicals. The flooring is only a few months old and was funded by a $40,000 grant received by the center.
“We’ve had some success” removing the vandalism, Persian said, encouraging people with knowledge of paint removal to reach out.
Logan City Police Capt. Curtis Hooley said eight other locations had been vandalized, including a house, several vehicles and a shed and fence at the Logan Latter-day Saint Temple. Hooley said three juveniles had been identified and referred to the juvenile court for the incidents.
Hooley estimated the damage cost for the vandalism at just under $5,000. Hooley said the vandalism was largely “vulgar stuff” with seemingly gang related content and a couple of negative sayings toward police.
According to Hooley, there has been an uptick in vandalism from last year — something he attributes, at least in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We certainly have seen an increase in vandalism and graffiti this summer,” Hooley said. “Since COVID came out and schools were cancelled and things, we’ve seen quite an increase, actually, with criminal mischief cases.”
Persian said donations are a welcomed way for concerned residents to help the center. According to Persian, the center has taken a significant, though not totally debilitating, financial hit since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve lost thousands of dollars,” he said, explaining the bulk of their income comes from organizations renting spaces at the center.
Persian said he’s been very pleased with the community’s willingness to help — especially the volunteers who offered their unsolicited help.
“It was fun to see that,” Persian said. “We love being here.”
Those interested in donating can visit whittiercenter.org.