Vandals hit Airdrie amenity Iron Horse Park
Iron Horse Park, located just off Eighth Street in Airdrie’s northwest, has been targeted by vandals.
Airdrie RCMP believes the culprits jumped one of the park’s chain-link fences and poured used motor oil on the west wall of the railway station, a building that contains public washrooms, mechanical equipment, maintenance and a birthday party room, sometime during the night of July 27.
“We are just extremely disappointed that this kind of stuff has to happen,” said Airdrie resident Troy Kabatoff, who is a member of the Alberta Model Engineering Society (AMES), the non-profit group responsible for operation at the 12-acre site.
This isn’t the first incident of vandalism at the park, which includes three outbuildings and more than 1.6 kilometres of miniature train track, on which the club’s one-eighth size model trains are driven.
“This happens every year,” said Kabatoff. “It’s mischief stuff, just vandalism.”
According to Kabatoff, vandals often climb over and under the fence to gain entrance into the park.
Over the past few summers, vandals have repeatedly tried to kick in the door of the clubhouse, which is currently being renovated for use as an additional space for birthday parties; smashed the window of the excavator that is onsite; and cut parts of the fence surrounding the property.
Someone even dug under the fence to allow their dog to run in the park, said Kabatoff.
Volunteers are forced, time and again, to spend their time cleaning up and fixing property destroyed by the vandals, according to Kabatoff. He said he is not sure how much the repairs have cost.
“They don’t really steal anything, it is just vandalism,” he said.
AMES has considered purchasing and installing security cameras to stop the rampant destruction.
However, the process has been stalled because of the expense and the difficulty of installing enough cameras to properly secure the park, he added.
AMES has leased the site, located alongside the tracks, for about 15 years from the City of Airdrie.
The organization has been in operation since the 1970s, according to Kabatoff, who has been involved for about five years.
In recent years, the club has expanded its offerings in the park to include several bridges, a lagoon, a tunnel and various plantings around the park.
It takes 12 to 15 minutes to travel the entire length of the track, which has been set up to represent the rail trip from Calgary to Vancouver.
Starting with a flat piece of land, members have added a mountain, hills and valleys and a memorial park in dedication to deceased members. According to Kabatoff, the vandalism won’t stop the club from its plans for the park, which include adding more track, fixing the club house and potentially having trains run both ways.
This year alone, the club has spent about $7,000 to purchase about 250 pine trees for the site.
Fixing the damage can be costly both in time and money, said Kabatoff.
“The only money we really get is from casinos every two or three years and ticket sales,” he said.
He said club members have put in about 60,000 hours getting Iron Horse Park to its current state.
Kabatoff said he doesn’t know who is responsible for the vandalism, but suspects it may be young people.
“Parents have to know what their kids are doing and where they are,” he said.
“Kids will be kids and they will always do what they do, but maybe (it will be) less frequent if they are busy.”