Observatory suffers repeated vandalism

Repeated vandalism haunts observatory

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 24/07/2014
Observatory
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
BROKEN: Observatory in Anzac Park vandalised.

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The Manawatu Astronomical Society is looking to beef up security at the observatory after an increase in vandalism.

The observatory, in Palmerston North's Anzac Park, was hit by vandals over the weekend who made a hole in an area patched up from a previous vandalism attack.

Society president Ian Cooper said there was an ongoing problem with vandalism at the observatory, colloquially known as "the dome".

He put much of it down to curiosity over what was in it, but really, there wasn't anything worth taking, he said, and what was there was too big to move.

Anyone who had got into the observatory in the past hadn't taken anything, he said.

"One time they broke in and rearranged the chairs to face the back, like we were some weird cult."

The society had always had trouble with graffiti, but it was "getting a bit more aggressive these days", he said.

The front door of the observatory was replaced after repeated attacks finally got the better of it, and the most recent damage was to an area of the dome that had been vandalised before, and had been patched, but not fully repaired.

Part of the problem too was that the grass and trees in the park had grown immensely since it was erected in 1971, and the dome was obscured from view when standing in the car park at Anzac Park.

Members would be eager to see some changes.

Ongoing vandalism was a frustration as repairs to the dome were paid for out of money fundraised by the society, and the money could be better spent on other things.

Along with repairing the latest damage, they would also be looking to make some security upgrades.

Included among those was to replace and "upgrade to something more menacing" the barbed wire on the fence surrounding the dome, to make it harder for people to get to the dome roof. A broken nearby brick wall would also be coming down, so it could not provide any ammunition for potential vandals.

It would also be helpful if residents in the area or anyone who noticed people lurking around the observatory, reported those people to police.

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- Manawatu Standard

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