Council condemns vandals destroying community facilities

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Vandals have torn through Civic Park in Warragul causing significant damage to trees, vegetation, and fencing, with Baw Baw Shire Council now working through the extent of repairs required, which is expected to take months to complete.

Trees have been cut down with handsaws, with the vegetation either distributed throughout the gardens or pulled back across the unofficial bike tracks, which the vandals have created. Some of the trees torn down were nearly 20 years old and included protected native species.

Other trees have been damaged by brute force through the breaking of branch unions and main branches, in some cases meaning that the trees have been weakened to the point of failure and are now a community risk. The danger they now pose to the community means that Council has no choice but remove four to five of the larger, much-loved canopy trees that help make Civic Park the community place of pride that it is.

Baw Baw Shire Mayor Cr Annemarie McCabe expressed her utter disappointment and asked the vandals to rethink their actions.

“I would hope to think that the people causing this damage are unaware of the impact of their actions,” Cr McCabe said.

“Not only will this come at a financial cost to Council, but it will also take up significant officer time as Council embarks on the restoration process, and unfortunately the reality is, some of what has been damaged and taken just can’t be restored to how it was.

“As Mayor and a local resident of Baw Baw I know how much enjoyment our community get from attending this park.”

Council is also in the process of investigating one of the native tree ferns that has been removed and destroyed at Civic Park. If these fall under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, this could result in substantial fines and penalties.

Dry stone retaining walls have also been pulled apart and used as the bases for bike jumps across the site. Urban maintenance teams will need to rebuild these walls to maintain the stability along the western slope of the garden where the damage has been caused.

Unfortunately, this act of vandalism isn’t standalone, with Council also recently made aware of significant damage caused to property at the Drouin Netball Club.

“I implore the people ruining our facilities and property to rethink their actions and consider the people it is affecting,” Cr McCabe added.

“Our local sporting clubs are run by hardworking and tireless volunteers, and when they turn up to see their clubs damaged, they are forced to feel that their work is all for nothing.

“Our volunteers are the fabric of our community, and I would like to offer my personal apologies to you, that people are damaging the facilities and clubs you work so hard to look after,” Cr McCabe said.

Victoria Police are aware of the vandalism at Civic Park and Council will continue to work with local authorities.

If you witness or are aware of an act of vandalism, Council urges you to contact the Victoria Police, Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444, or you can reach Council on 5624 2411. You can also report the problem via the Snap Send Solve app.

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/Public Release. View in full here.