A fire on early Monday destroyed the concession stand near the swimming area at Olander Park in Sylvania, the latest incident at the park. Authorities say arson is suspected.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Sylvania police said vandalism incidents that have occurred at Olander Park in the last few months seem to be escalating in seriousness.
In the latest incident, Olander Park's concession shack was destroyed in a fire Monday.
Over Memorial Day weekend, vandals caused $2,500 in damage to buildings, windows, and the vending machine on the west side of the lake. Officials said the park's vending machines and concession shack have been vandalized twice before in the last few months.
Police Capt. Rick Schnoor, who is investigating the Memorial Day vandalism, said that the incidents pose a danger to the vandals and the community.
Although the Sylvania Township Fire Department is taking the lead on Monday’s alleged arson investigation, city police said the two incidents are related. The two most recent incidents started in the same location on park property and occurred at about the same time, Captain Schnoor said.
“We do think the suspects are juveniles. They may be staying near the park or at a friend’s home near there,” he said. Officials have seen what may be two juveniles captured on a surveillance camera during the Memorial Day incident.
Over Memorial Day weekend, vandals broke into the vending machines and concession shack, broke down a door to the maintenance building and damaged a kitchen door at Nederhouser Community Hall, threw fire extinguishers through a large picture window at the hall, and smashed hanging baskets.
At 3:02 a.m. Monday, Sylvania Township Fire Department responded to a building fire at Olander Park, 6930 Sylvania Ave.
When Sylvania Police arrived about five minutes later, followed by the fire department, the building with the vending machines was engulfed in flames, Fire Chief Jeffrey Kowalski said.
There was no way to save the building, on the west side of the park's lake, or its contents, he said.
Fire and emergency responders worked to ensure the adjacent pool and lifeguard shed was protected.
No one was hurt. Chief Kowalski said the pool and lifeguard shed possibly sustained heat damage.
The Sylvania Township Fire Department has not identified any suspects, nor said how many people might have been involved. However, Captain Schnoor said evidence points to more than one person was involved.
Park officials said they are not sure why the stand has been targeted.
“It's in an area that is lit up. It's near condos,” Park Director Gary Madrzykowski said, adding that those points should deter people from vandalizing the spot.
Chief Kowalski said the fire department, city and township police, and state fire marshal are investigating.
Mr. Madrzykowski said the building had a value of at least $5,000, not including the vending machines and their products, which are owned by an outside company.
Anyone with information regarding the arson and vandalism is asked to call Toledo Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111 or city police at 419-885-8900. Tips can be anonymous.
Olander Park has offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the two suspects who broke into the park on Memorial Day weekend.
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