MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - City of Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes confirmed Sunday that Savannah's Playground in Myrtle Beach was vandalized over the weekend.
A sign that shows a map of the playground was vandalized: "[EXPLETIVE] – U PUT BACK TREES U RIPPED -OFF- TEAR DOWN THIS EYE-SORE". The sign has been cleaned. No other sign or piece of equipment was vandalized.
The playground is designed for kids with disabilities, but anyone can play on it. It was named after 19-year-old Savannah Thompson. She lives in Myrtle Beach and has Williams Syndrome.
The property in the Market Common area behind the recreation center was donated to the non-profit by the city. And the non-profit, led by Mayor John Rhodes, is raising money to build the playground. The first phase will cost $1.4 million.
Rhodes said, "How could someone be that low to do something like that." He said he doesn't know the exact time or date the vandalism took place, but he is confident the vandal will be caught. Rhodes said he wants to meet this person.
City spokesman Mark Kruea said they will be looking to see if any surveillance video in the area caught images of whoever did this.
Savannah's family was discouraged to hear someone would be upset over the playground's construction.
"It's just hard for me to believe that somebody would stoop that low," said Lance Thompson, Savannah's dad. "And it didn't really seem to make much sense -- the comment about taking down a lot of trees. A building wasn't being built, this is a playground being built around some trees. So it didn't make much sense to us. Just very disappointing."
Savannah said that she felt ashamed that someone would do that. Her dad said that they've only heard positive feedback so far and are so thankful for everyone's initiative and hard work to make this a reality.
"It's going to be extremely important to the community -- not only to the residents here but also visitors," said Thompson. "We're all getting a facility and amenity that children of all abilities will enjoy. So it's going to be a tremendous asset to everybody and we're just very disappointed that somebody would do something like this."
Mayor Rhodes said the vandalism will not inhibit the playground's progress. Crews are waiting for it to warm up a bit so that they can install the concrete sidewalks. Then once it gets above 50 degrees for a few days, the rubber ground can be installed. And after that the lights can go up. The original ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for February. Rhodes believes it will be in March now. He said that will be even better because it will be warmer for the kids to play.
To view previous coverage on the progression of the park, click here.