AUSTIN (KXAN) — J. Bouldin started his Monday morning walking out onto a muddy, unlevel field to survey the damage that had been done over the weekend. The mangled piece of land used to be lush with grass and hold four soccer fields for the Lonestar Soccer Club, a local youth soccer organization. Now, the field is unusable for the rest of the season.
“It’s a tragedy,” Bouldin, the field manager for the soccer club, said while looking out at the mud.
The soccer fields at Circle C Ranch Metro park were the target of vandalism over the weekend. Someone, or a group of people, had moved limestone boulders and railroad ties that surround the park to get their car onto the field. The mixture of heavy rainfall and an erratic driver resulted in a destroyed field with muddy tire tracks weaving throughout the field.
But the vandalism did not stop at just tearing up the grass. Thousands of dollars of damage was also done to the soccer goals and nets on the field, according to Bouldin. Soccer goals were placed vertically on their side as other goals lie in pieces.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time this field has been vandalized.
A history of vandalism
Bouldin said he has been the field manager for the soccer club for 20 years. He has seen vandalism to fields before. He said the vandalism usually comes in waves, with months where there is nothing happening. But the most recent vandalism that began after the start of the new year is something different.
“This has to be the worst I’ve seen in the 20 years,” Bouldin said.
Bouldin and his team are now trying to get another field ready for more games this weekend. The loss of field three has created scheduling issues because not as many games can be played at once.
He said he will have to re-level and re-seed the field, and wait for the grass to come back. The amount of vandalism is frustrating Bouldin, and he said he would like some help from the parks department when it comes to securing the field after heavy rainfall.
The city of Austin owns the field but leases it to the soccer club. A spokesman for the department said in the past, the soccer club made repairs to the field themselves. KXAN asked the spokesman about the history of vandalism at the park, and the spokesman said, “We’ve had no reports of vandalism recently. According to our Athletics Program Manager, he recalls only few incidents over the past decade.”
As far as security, the parks department points to the limestone boulders and railroad ties that surround the fields as a proper way to secure the areas. But whoever destroyed the field simply moved the railroad ties and drove the vehicle on to the field. A spokesman said the department was going to “check on the status” of the boulders.
Neighbors become concerned
Jeff Stull walks his two hound dogs every morning around Circle C Ranch Metro park. He and his dogs love having access to the expansive trails and beautiful scenery.
“It’s a fantastic park. It’s definitely a resource for people in Austin for people who want to come out,” Stull said.
Stull said he has seen vandalism at the park at least once a week in the past few months.
“I get angry. I mean I almost feel like putting up a bounty or something because it just destroys the beauty of the place,” Stull said while looking out at the damaged field.
Stull said he is considering writing a letter to Mayor Kirk Watson and the city council to see if more can be done to protect the park and deter anyone with bad intentions.
“Unwanted destruction. It’s just malice. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Stull explained.