Isanti making headway on vandalism

By Elizabeth Sias

Police in Isanti are making some headway on arresting individuals involved with vandalism around the city, but the spray painting and property damage continue nonetheless.

Mayor George Wimmer discussed the city’s rash of vandalism at the June 7 Isanti City Council meeting, noting that further incidences were reported recently in the soccer field and ice rink.

“We’re getting to a point here pretty soon where the cost of constantly getting rid of graffiti or replacing things, fixing things — we’re going to be getting to a decision point here if we can’t prevent it, some of these things are just not going to happen,” he said.

Police have arrested six juveniles for damage to property, and three cases are still pending and under investigation, Isanti Police Chief Ron Sager said. One of them occurred earlier this week with spray paint at the soccer field and the other two involve the original spray paint at the ice arena.

“We’ve been tracking it the best we can and out there the best we can, but you can’t stop it unless you actually parked someone right there,” Sager said.

Installing surveillance cameras would not be a wise investment, he said, because history shows that vandals will still commit the crime even if they are aware of the camera.

Mayor Wimmer reiterated that the city won’t be able to justify spending money on replacing damaged property if the vandalism continues, but said he would like to prevent the crimes if possible.

“We’re going to have to do something to protect these amenities that we’re putting in there,” he said. “We are making some progress from the policing standpoint, but we are getting more of these kinds of nonsensical things going on.”

City Council Member Sue Larson reminded residents that they should report any suspicious activity.

“When they see something happening, they need to report it,” Larson said. “If they’re out and about, there’s nothing wrong with making a call if they think something’s going on.”

In other action, the council:

• Approved the plans for the 2011 street and utility improvement project and approved ordering an advertisement for bids. The project will include the improvement of Broadway Street SW from the railroad right-of-way to 3rd Avenue SW; 2nd and 4th Avenues SW from Main Street West to Elizabeth Street SW; 3rd Avenue SW from Main Street West to Broadway Street SW; 5th Avenue SW from Elizabeth Street SW to South Broadway Lane SW; and Elizabeth Street SW from 2nd Avenue SW to North Brookview Lane SW. The improvements will consist of both new construction and reconstruction of sanitary sewer, storm sewer, streets and curb and gutter, as well as watermain valve installations, together with associated sidewalk, driveway and boulevard restorations.

• Banned the parking of vehicles at all times on Elizabeth Street SW from 5th Avenue SW to 2nd Avenue SW; 5th Avenue SW from South Brookview Lane SW to Elizabeth Street SW; 4th Avenue SW from Elizabeth Street SW to Main Street West; and 2nd Avenue SW from Elizabeth Street SW to Main Street West. The parking restrictions are due to the street improvement project to take place on these roadways. The city will be expending Municipal Street Aid Funds on the improvements, which do not provide adequate width for parking on both sides of the streets.

• Approved the resignation of Park and Recreation Board Member Keith Koehler. He will no longer be living within the city of Isanti and will be unable to meet the requirements for remaining on the board.