StoryWalk Among Latest Amenity Vandalized at Rolling Meadows Park District

On Aug. 1, Rolling Meadows Park District and Rolling Meadows Library proudly unveiled a permanent StoryWalk® along the path from Community Center Park to the library.

A little more than two months later, nearly a dozen of the displays stood vandalized, with the protective coverings shattered and pages of the book cut. The vandalism was discovered in the early morning hours of Monday, Oct. 4. In addition to the StoryWalk® damage, garbage cans were thrown into the creek along the path.

"We're beyond disappointed to see someone purposefully damage this new amenity we put here for the community to enjoy as they walked or biked the path," Rolling Meadows Park District Executive Director Kevin Romejko said. "What's especially frustrating is this isn't the first time in recent months our parks have been vandalized. We've incurred thousands of dollars in damage from people destroying our parks and facilities for no reason. It's heartbreaking."

Repairs to the StoryWalk® will cost $500, Romejko said. In the past three months, the District has incurred property damage in excess of $6,000.

The recent damage includes:

• July 4, 2021: Lamp post cracked and knocked over in Kimball Hill Park

• July 4, 2021: Compressor turned off on the roof of West Meadows Ice Arena, causing the rink to melt and closing the facility for a day.

• Aug. 30, 2021: Sink and soap dispenser ripped out of the wall in the men'; s bathroom at Kimball Hill Park. Red substance tossed on the wall and floor in one of the stalls.

• Sept. 26, 2021: Lamp post cracked and knocked over a second time in Kimball Hill Park

Romejko said he is aware of the various TikTok challenges currently trending that involve harming public property and encourages parents to talk to their children about respecting themselves, others and their community. Anyone who sees someone vandalizing park district property should not confront the individual(s), but inform the Rolling Meadows Park District or Rolling Meadows Police Department.

"We've had several conversations surrounding whether we should consider installing cameras throughout our parks, but with 156 acres of parkland, that's not a viable solution logistically or financially," Romejko said. "We know these incidents, while upsetting, are not a true reflection of our community and we're counting on the public to keep us informed if they witness this type of destruction. This is also an excellent opportunity for parents to remind their kids about the serious consequences of vandalism and encourage them to make positive choices to help their communities - maybe volunteer for one of our events or participate in our annual Community Cleanup Day."

Like Romejko, Lucia Khipple, director of Youth Services for Rolling Meadows Library was disappointed to discover the damage Monday morning.

"I am saddened to see the vandalism that occurred on the StoryWalk," Khipple said. "I know that it is being enjoyed by so many local families, so I look forward to its repair and continuing success."

The StoryWalk® project was created through a partnership with Rolling Meadows Park District, Rolling Meadows Park District Foundation, Rolling Meadows Library and Friends of the Rolling Meadows Library. A Grand Opening was held on Aug. 1, with children from the community cutting a ribbon to debut the new feature, followed by face painting, balloon animals and a bubble show.

Founded in 2007 by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, StoryWalk® was created to promote a love of reading and physical activity.

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