City police continue a quest to find vandals who caused an estimated $10,000 in damages to an Oneonta Little League dugout and painted graffiti on other public buildings in the Sixth Ward.
The third-base dugout at Doc Knapp Field, also known as the Oneonta Little League Field, was badly damaged by fire set Saturday night, city police said. Vandals also used spray paint to write graffiti at Riverside Elementary School and Swart-Wilcox House.
Police Lt. Douglas Brenner said an early estimate was $10,000 in damages to the dugout. Other damages to the school and museum building have yet to be determined, he said.
Bill Erario, Oneonta Little League president, said the third-base dugout will have to be torn down and replaced. Sponsor signs were damaged by graffiti, he said Monday night, and wiring for the speaker system was torn up.
Vandals apparently also tried to start a fire at the first-base dugout, Erario said, and the organization is fortunate that there weren’t more property damages. An insurance company adjuster is reviewing the case, he said.
Oneonta police received a report at about 7:20 p.m. Saturday about a fire at the field and city firefighters arrived soon after and extinguished the flames.
During their investigation, police found graffiti, including obscene phrases, on the nearby Swart-Wilcox House and Riverside Elementary School.
Brenner said more than one person was involved in the vandalism based on footprint evidence. The police department still seeks tips from the community about the incident, he said.
Vandals in this case could face charges of third-degree arson, a class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of three to 15 years in prison, Brenner said. Other possible charges include second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, and making graffiti, a misdemeanor.
School officials said Sunday that graffiti had been painted over and damage was minimal.
Many children have participated in Oneonta Little League and to see its facilities damaged by arsonist is “just heart-wrenching” to supporters, Brenner said. Police have been checking tips from the community and will continue the investigation today, he said.
Joan Kollgaard, vice president of the Friends of Swart-Wilcox, said she went to the museum, which is housed in the oldest structure in Oneonta, on Sunday to check on damages. However, she said, she saw no graffiti, which apparently didn’t stick to the siding or had been wiped off.
Why anyone would want to vandalize the sites is “mind-boggling,” Kollgaard said Monday night.
“We were fortunate that there were no lasting damages,” she said. The local Townsquare Media radiothon effort that raised $10,500 for the Little League was an “astounding” show of support by the community, she said.
“The Little League has done nothing but help little kids for years and years,” she said. “It’s appalling what happened to the Little League field.”