Opponents of new user fees may be the culprits. Those opposed to new user fees may be behind recent vandalism and a burglary at the South St. Paul park, police said.
Not everyone has embraced the new fees being imposed on disc golf players at Kaposia Park in South St. Paul. For the second time in less than a month, vandals have expressed their opposition, most recently in the form of profanity-laced messages spray-painted on a trailer where the fees are collected.
Sometime between the close of business Tuesday night and daylight Wednesday, someone painted the words "I pay taxes, why pay for the course" on the back of the trailer owned by Fairway Flyerz, the city-approved vendor collecting the fees.
The words "Free" along with expletives were spray-painted on the front door and windows, said Brian Snelson, a company spokesman.
On June 27, someone broke into Fairway Flyerz's trailer and stole a cash box containing about $200, along with hats, 60 golf discs and other items, according to a police report.
Snelson said he believes the culprits are protesting the fees that the South St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department began collecting on May 28. The department began charging $5 a day or $30 for a season pass to generate revenue to spruce up the popular but heavily worn 24-hole course. It had offered free play since it opened in 1987.
Snelson said about one in five patrons has complained about the fees, so he knows opposition is out there.
"The pain is that the aggression is toward us," he said. "They should be talking to the city."
South St. Paul Parks and Recreation manager Chris Esser called the actions a "cowardly way to protest" and invited those upset with the fees to bring their concerns to the City Council.
Money collected so far has been used to mow the lawn and trim the course, add wood chips on some holes and install new benches. Those have been vandalized, too, Snelson said.
Fairway is considering installing cameras if the vandals return, Snelson said.
As of Wednesday, no one had been arrested in either crime, said South St. Paul Police Chief Dan Vujovich.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768