Kids were running around in their swimsuits at Filmore Thomas Park, but there was no water.
That’s because the popular splash pad is not working after vandals struck the park.
“I’ve probably only been here three times this year, and it has never been on,” said Jennifer Barton, who brought her grandchildren to the park last week.
The splash pad and other areas of the park were vandalized, said Robert Walker, recreation director for Macon-Bibb County. The vandalism has been an ongoing issue since May.
The splash pad has been defaced as well as its pumps, valves and nozzles. Major damage was done to the irrigation system, and the park was littered with trash.
The county is working daily to make repairs, and the splash pad is next on the list, Walker said.
The splash pad is part of $1.7 million in improvements made to the park using special purpose local option sales tax funds. The improved recreational area, which opened in 2016, also includes a pavilion, playground, basketball court, trails and sidewalks.
Filmore Thomas III is also taking steps to restore the park.
Thomas is the founder of Friends of Filmore Thomas Park, a nonprofit organization created in the spirit of Filmore Thomas Sr., Thomas III's grandfather and the park’s namesake. Their goal is to promote, maintain and protect the park.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” Thomas said. “It made us feel very disappointed and saddened that something that was put together for the community has been tarnished by a few individuals.”
The organization already has raised $3,000 to put toward repair efforts.
Elisha Curry, a resident in the Filmore community, traveled to Freedom Park after discovering the damages at Filmore Thomas. Though Freedom Park is located outside of her neighborhood, she was willing to make the extra five minutes commute.
“We need areas like this,” Curry said, referring to the improved Macon parks. “The kids can come and have good, clean fun and have a good time.”
Along with repairs, Thomas said the addition of lights and cameras to the park, as well as a police presence would have a great impact on the area.
“That would also protect the community as well,” he said.