Vandals Leave Behind Dangerous Mess At Gulfport Park

GULFPORT (WLOX) --  Andi Oustalet is an angry neighbor.

"They've broken off the finials on the end of this little fence," said Andi Oustalet. "They had put beer boxes on top of this structure. It was just destructive and just disgusting."

Oustalet showed up at Bayou View Park in Gulfport Thursday morning, and found countless bits of sharp glass scattered all over the children's section.

"That's the part that makes me so mad is why would they choose inside the children's area to destroy? That's just cruel," said Oustalet.

Oustalet spearheaded a community-wide campaign to rebuild the hurricane-damaged park last year. It's not easy seeing months of hard work ruined by vandals.

"It made my stomach turn," Oustalet said. "I just can't believe that someone would do that to such a happy place, to a place that was the first to come back to life after Katrina."

Oustalet spent the day turning many disappointed families away.

"We're going to have to close the park for now. They broke glass all in the playground equipment," Oustalet told one woman who pulled up in a van.

The Wallers of Saucier brought their grandchild and grandniece to the park, because they've heard so much about it.

"They're wanting to play really bad, but we'll have to come back another time," said Regina Waller.

"The kids are the ones that suffer," said Isaac Waller. "They're just wanting to have a good time, to play. It's a nice area, and it's a shame somebody's got to tear it up."

The biggest challenge was trying to pick up every broken piece of glass. That's because the color of the glass is dark brown.  The rubber padding beneath the playground equipment is also dark brown.

City crews spent the day sweeping the grounds. They also used a powerful vacuum cleaner to remove the dangerous shards, so the children can come back and play. The vandals, on the other hand, better not.

"This won't be tolerated," said Oustalet. "We're going to have police here at night. If we have to get extra security out here at night, we'll have it. Stay away from Bayou View Park."

Gulfport police are still looking for the vandals. In the meantime, neighbors are putting up signs, urging parents to make sure their children wear tennis shoes while playing at the park. Gulfport Councilman Jackie Smith told WLOX News the clean-up is finished and the park will be open Friday.