Capaha Field marred by graffiti

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vandals did what's being termed "thousands of dollars of damage" at the Capaha Park baseball stadium.

Images and expletives were splayed across the green tin wall, the large white stadium doors and across several signs sometime after Friday night.

Jess Bolen, longtime manager for the Plaza Tire Capahas and president of the ballpark's grounds committee, said it's the third major hit by vandals in the last half-dozen years. He said this is the second graffiti incident. Major water damage also occurred when vandals opened up the sprinkler system one night a few years ago, which led to "about six inches of water on the field" and $9,000 in repairs.

Bolen and his wife, Mary, took photos and filled out a police report on Sunday.

"The best word is just frustrated," Jess Bolen said.

Today, they begin the process of covering the images and deciding how to make repairs. The baseball-shaped sign celebrating the Capaha championships over the years will likely need replacing, the Bolens said. The sign cost more than $600. Paint will have to be scraped off the green tin fence behind the grandstands or the metal will have to be entirely replaced.

"For an amateur baseball team, it gets kind of expensive," said Jess Bolen.

More than that, the Bolens said, is seeing damage to a property they and others have put so much time and money into -- he estimates $1 million in improvements during the last 20 years.

"We didn't have a grass infield. We didn't have a fence. We didn't have a press box," he mused, repeating his feeling of frustration and adding an observation. "Police officers that have to deal with this stuff every day, I don't see how they do it."

Mary Bolen said she thinks the spray-painting was done Saturday night, as she'd stopped by the field Friday to check for water damage and there was no evidence of it at that time.

The vandals used language, she said, that "is filthy. It's obviously someone who has a bone to pick with the police."

She said the only good thing is that a hill obscures most of the writing.

The Bolens said police told them graffiti complaints have been made from several areas of the city.

Cpl. Jason Selzer, spokesman for the Cape Girardeau Police Department, said the graffiti did not initially appear to be gang-related.

Over the last year, he said, there have "definitely been cases of graffiti in different parts of town. Usually it happens in spurts, over a one or two day period. Sometimes it's a certain groups of kids or sometimes a kid's doing it in response to something done by police or a property owner or just doing to it to do property damage."

But he said the various symbols, called tags, used in the spray-painting often is what leads police to an arrest.

The Bolen said, after talking with police, that they will pursue a way to ward off future vandals.

"My proposition to my committee is going to be put up lights and cameras," Jess Bolen said. "If I have my way. I can't speak for what the committee will vote for, but as president, I'm going to make my case for more security."

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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