In the early evening hours on Tuesday, April 5, the Cheshire Police Department was called to the site of the Ball & Socket Arts restoration project to respond to a call of suspicious activity.
According to the CPD call summary, at 6:23 p.m., Board of Directors member Corey Nash called the police after being notified by an independent contractor who was working at the site about a group of “suspicious-looking young males” who had entered the property on West Main Street.
“We have frequent site inspectors who come and go on the property as needed, and on this particular day one of them heard a noise and saw a few teenagers hanging around the area,” explained Nash. “It turns out, someone had made a makeshift ladder and tried to get up on the roof of one of the buildings. There’s a lot of broken windows, and they damaged some of the things that we put in place to try and stop them, like our gates and walls.”
Unfortunately, the news of the vandalism comes just weeks after the Ball & Socket Arts project announced their plans to open Building 2 to tenants, six years after beginning the historic restoration project. While the vandalism will take time to address and fix, both Bergamo and Nash are adamant that this recent incident didn’t set their summer opening timeline back.
“This is really (the last straw) for us,” explained Board of Directors member Ron Bergamo. “Last November, we had a really expensive theft of about $55,000 and this just adds to that. It’s so disappointing that we’ve worked so hard to do this and there are some people in town who just want to destroy property for fun.”
In order to curb potential vandalism, Nash and Bergamo have taken a variety of preventative measures at the property.
“We’ve tried putting in covers on the ladders that are outside, we’ve put up gates and walls, but they just keep getting in,” said Nash. “We really want to move forward with our project but we cant if we have to keep dealing with things like this.”
While Building 2 is nearly ready for tenants, the rest of the property is still in progress, and Nash is concerned that someone might get injured.
“It’s an incredibly old building, and people can really get hurt if they climb up onto a roof that is not structurally sound,” he said. “When you think about it, it’s not even our money that is being wasted, it’s the Town’s because we run on donations. The more damaged it is, the harder it will be to restore.”
While Bergamo and Nash don’t know who the perpetrators are, they want to make sure the community knows that they don’t want to single out a particular age group.
“We don’t want to be the bad guy here or make it seem like we are making a bigger deal than it is, but it’s really not OK to be on the property at all right now,” Bergamo explained. “We will press charges and seek damages against whoever has done this, because we not only have to fix the damage, but we have to install security cameras and things to prevent it from happening again.”
Nash said they recently purchased a $5,000 surveillance system and spoke with the Cheshire Police Department about increasing patrols around the area.
If you have any information about the April 5 vandalism, CPD asks you to call the non-emergency line at (203) 271-5500.