30 plants stolen and a fountain vandalized at Applegate Park in Merced

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Chairs, signs, and debris are what residents now see at the heart of the park with the recent vandalism. (KFSN)

Merced city officials said more than 30 plants and trees were stolen from the grounds at Applegate Park. This happened just weeks after the city received a grant to restore the garden and install irrigation.

They also said, along with the stolen property, the park's fountain is also seeing constant vandalism.

Normally a cup of coffee and a view of Applegate Park is how Merced residents Frank Machado and his wife like to start their mornings. They sit just steps away from Laura's Fountain where the view takes a turn.

"It's a pretty sight when it's there," said Machado.

Chairs, signs, and debris are what residents now see at the heart of the park with the recent vandalism

"We had broken glass, thrown bottles into it, the worst people can use their imagination and it's accurate," said Mike Conway, Merced City Manager Assistant.

Conway said this is an ongoing problem with the fountain, and they haven't been able to run the water for weeks.

"They're coming and throwing things in the fountain that end up fouling the water. So we end up having to drain, scrub the fountain, only to have the cycle come back."

City officials also said several of the new plants put in place through a state grant in April were already stolen by the end of May.

"Four of them disappeared one night, and I was shocked because it's just like they plucked it right out of the middle with the tree rose by there," said Leah Brown, Water Conservation.

City officials said the department is already stretched, and they don't have the funds to keep someone on site.

They don't know exactly who is responsible, but nearby residents said they do see several homeless residents sleeping in the park overnight.

"I hate to see it like that. I rather see all the bushes trimmed up right," said Machado.

City officials asked anyone to report anybody they see dumping trash or stealing property.

Machado said he's already seen police patrolling the area and hopes to soon see the water running again.

"It needs work on it, it needs to keep being done and it's a non-ending thing."

City officials did say they are open to any suggestions from residents.

They also plan to put in more plants this coming fall and clean the fountain within the next two weeks.
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