Vandals threaten community art program

HRCA worries they can't continue to fund the project with continued vandalism

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In the past six months, two pieces of public art worth thousands of dollars have been vandalized in a Highlands Ranch park, causing community leaders to worry about continuing the program.

Both sculptures, located in Civic Green Park, were part of the county's Art Encounters program. The program, which is funded in part by the nonprofit Highlands Ranch Cultural Affairs Association, began about 10 years ago through collaboration from multiple communities, including the Highlands Ranch Community Association, Castle Rock, Parker and Lone Tree.

One piece, called “Twirl,” was damaged in June, then repaired, then broken again and eventually permanently removed.

A second vandalized sculpture, titled “Elegant Lady,” was found in late October and community leaders fear it can't be fixed, said HRCA communications director Jamie Noebel.

“We are obviously devastated at this as these are two are wonderful pieces of art we display for the beautification and enjoyment of our community,” she said in an email.

Last year, another sculpture that was in front of the library was damaged by people hanging and pulling on it, she said.

Noebel worries that the HRCA won't be able to continue the program if the vandalism persists.

“We want to continue this wonderful program for our community, but with issues like this happening it makes it difficult for us to pay for repair,” she said. “Or, as in this case, probably replacement.”

“Twirl” was valued at $6,000 and “Elegant Lady” was worth $18,000, said Sara Walla, HRCA's senior marketing manager.

The HRCA has filed a report with the sheriff's office and hopes to find those responsible.

“It is terribly sad to us that people don't have more respect for this art,” Noebel said.

While this type of vandalism is not common in the area, the sheriff's office planned to set up an "increased patrol" in the park, which means more deputies will keep an eye on the area, said sheriff's office spokeswoman Cocha Heyden.

These types of cases can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the cost of the damaged item, she said.

Anyone with information on those who vandalized the art can contact the Douglas County Sheriff's Office by calling 303-660-7505 and referencing case #2019-00120631.

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