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Vandalized slides cause concern in Oak Lawn

LisVenegas said she has 'not good thoughts not good all' for whoever put screws bolts intwo slides Memorial Park Oak

Lisa Venegas said she has "not good thoughts, not good at all" for whoever put screws and bolts into two slides at Memorial Park in Oak Lawn. | Steve Metsch~Sun~Times Media

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Updated: July 14, 2014 6:31AM



Lisa Venegas, of Chicago Ridge, was thrilled when her daughter moved into Oak Lawn, across the street from Memorial Park.

After all, a new centerpiece at the renovated park, an improved version of the old “rocket slide,” would be fun for her grandchildren Timothy, 9, and Anaiya, 6, to play on.

But on Thursday, Venegas was busy making sure the slides were free of any potential danger, such as the 10 screws and bolts that were found June 5 inserted into two slides.

The screws and bolts — eight in one slide, two in another — were removed by park district workers before anyone could be hurt, but Oak Lawn police have increased patrols at the park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue.

“It’s frightening,” Venegas said. “I told my grandchildren to be on the lookout.”

In his park district maintenance office on 110th Street Thursday, parks Supt. Joel Craig said a Memorial Park visitor alerted district officials to the vandalized slides.

“They appeared to have been screwed into the plastic slides, and the tops were knocked off or cut off,” he said. “They were one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch sticking up. It was very evident this was deliberate to cause harm to children on the slides.”

The new slides suffered no structural damage, he said, describing the discovery of the damage as “disturbing.”

“Even if it wasn’t a new park, anywhere where some sicko would deliberately set out to harm a child like that, I don’t know how to rationalize it,” Craig said.

Renovation of the nine-acre park also includes splash pads that are scheduled to open July 4.

He said he hopes whoever is responsible for the screws “is a bragger who says ‘hey, that was me on the news.’

“We’ve had our fair share of vandalism, but nothing like this where somebody has the intent to cause harm. This is our first and hopefully only experience with that,” Craig said. “Parents are upset it happened. I tell everyone to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.”



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