Home News Local News Defacement of Russ DeKay track frustrates citizens

Defacement of Russ DeKay track frustrates citizens

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At the Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, Councilor Barry Foster, Criminal Investigations Commander Joe Smith and Deputy Chief Mike Stanton examine photos of arrows carved into the Russ DeKay Soccer Complex track on North Grand Avenue. Councilor Jeanine Corn Best and citizen Eddy Jaramillo stand and look at the photos on Jaramillo’s cell phone. (Alison Penn Photo)

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A citizen has been trying to resolve what he calls a safety hazard at a local track.

Roswell resident Eddy Jaramillo claims a couple is carving arrows into the Russ DeKay Soccer Complex track on North Grand Avenue. He said the arrows are causing injuries and he has been seeking resolution from the city of Roswell and New Mexico Military Institute for approximately eight months. On Friday morning, 83 arrows were drawn haphazardly along the track and a Roswell Police officer was on patrol at 10 a.m. (Alison Penn Photo)

Eddy Jaramillo said he has been walking on the track at the Russ DeKay Soccer Complex west of the Wool Bowl on North Grand Avenue for more than 20 years. Jaramillo said he has been noticing arrows carved into the track for six to eight months. He says several people have twisted their ankles stepping in the arrows.

Jaramillo said the arrows start off big — but the smaller, deeper arrows are the ones causing problems.

“People are stepping in them by accident, spraining their ankles and their knees and falling,” Jaramillo said at a Public Safety Committee meeting. “There’s people getting hurt out there. Luckily — lately it hasn’t been any senior citizens. I used to walk with two other guys and a runner went around us to pass us and he hit one (an arrow) and he come cussing, saying he is going to the kill the guy (carving the arrows into the track) if he catches him.

“To me, it is destroying the track, he’s destroying city and institute property,” he said. “I cannot understand why — they know who is doing it.”

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Jaramillo said he has talked to city of Roswell’s Code Enforcement, to Parks and Recreation and to the Roswell Police Department since he first saw the arrows about eight months ago. He said the city was covering up the arrows for about two months — following his first report — but stopped for a while.

He said he has also paid a couple visits to the New Mexico Military Institute’s (NMMI) commandant regarding the issue.

“NMMI leases the Russ DeKay complex to the city of Roswell,” Carl Hansen, NMMI’s public relations representative, said. “The provisions of the lease arrangement require that the city maintain the complex.”

In an emailed statement, Elizabeth Gilbert, director of administrative services for the city, sad, “We know who it is and have reported them to the RPD as well as the NMMI Police. The person goes out there early in the morning and digs the arrows. We are not sure why they are doing it, but Parks continues to monitor and fill back the holes as we can. We have run off the person a number of times.”

Gilbert said the city is trying to eliminate the immediate issue, and said people are breaking the law by defacing property. At this time, Gilbert said the city is hoping the RPD or NMMI police will take some action to stop the arrows being dug in the track.

Jaramillo said he thought earlier in the week something had been done — because no arrows appeared. But on Thursday morning the arrows were back.

Tanya Rodriguez runs on the track often and said the arrows have not bothered her, nor has she seen anyone injure themselves. Rodriguez also said the city has taken care of issues efficiently in the past and that the arrows have been there for years.

Isalaei Daniels said she has been walking on the track for 20 years, every day for the past two years. Daniels said she noticed the arrows about six months ago, has twisted her ankle twice and knows another man who hurt his ankle as well. She said she thought someone started drawing the arrows to stop a few people riding bikes at high speeds in the opposite direction of people who were on foot.

“It’s pretty dangerous because when you walk you are not paying attention … and the city has been trying to help us fix it,” Daniels said. “But it’s just impossible. They take it off and the person comes and puts it back. I don’t know what we are going to do, but it is dangerous.”

She said she thinks a camera could provide a solution. She also said other users of the track have called police. She laughed and said the police are too busy.

City Councilor Jeanine Corn Best said Jaramillo called her on Tuesday regarding the track and wanted to speak at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Jaramillo provided photos from his personal cell phone to show the committee the arrows.

Jaramillo said he got a license plate number of the people allegedly carving arrows into the track. He said one night he saw a man and woman drawing the arrows.

Joe Smith, Roswell Police Department’s criminal investigations commander, asked to see the photos and said Police Chief Phil Smith has briefed officers that patrol at night. Smith told Jaramillo that police are aware of the situation and addressing the issue. Jaramillo said he talked to a police officer during the Cinco De Mayo and Rise over Roswell Balloon Rally and the officer said they had been to the alleged arrow-carver’s house and have caught him in action twice.

Jaramillo asked why they could not be banned and Smith said an official representative of NMMI would have to do it. Smith said if he was not mistaken, those involved could be mentally unstable — which he clarified is not an excuse, but rather a factor limiting how RPD can charge someone for the arrows.

Hansen said banning someone would have to be in the jurisdiction of the city — and he would suggest citizens send their complaints to the city.

After the meeting, Jaramillo said it seemed up in the air whether his complaint was going to be taken seriously, but in conversation with Smith the next day, Jaramillo said he was told the city wants to do something.

“I just don’t understand their theory that the institute has to take care of it,” Jaramillo said of the city’s response. “That’s what they told me.”

In a perfect world, Jaramillo said he would like the people carving arrows to be banned because he has never had a problem like this with the track in the past.

“They are aware of it now,” Jaramillo said. “I think something should be done before someone gets seriously hurt. There has been people that have had to stay away for over a month with a sprained ankle.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.