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News: 06/15/2016

Vandalism of Oakmont irrigation systems, sprinklers has OVA puzzled

A spree of vandalism over the past three weeks has Oakmont Village Association (OVA) staff puzzled, but now proactive about taking steps to secure Oakmont’s various irrigation equipment and control boxes.

In four separate events, vandals turned off irrigation pumps, reset irrigation timers, and shut off sprinklers on OVA property around Oakmont, browning lawns and requiring repairs, said OVA Facilities Manager Rick Aubert.

The first instance of vandalism was discovered on May 25 when the heavy metal cover protecting an irrigation booster pump near White Oak Drive was lifted and the booster pump switched off, cutting the water supply to the Central Activity Center greens near the Berger Center.

The following week, someone switched the irrigation timer at the lawn bowling green near the Central Activity Center to water the green every day. Overwatering is not only a waste of water, it could cause a fungus to grow and wreck the grass, said Aubert. Additionally, around the same time, some sort of chemical was sprayed on the lawn bowling green, causing some of the grass to turn brown. In anticipation of the lawn bowling tournament of the Sonoma Wine Country Games in Oakmont later that week, the discolored areas were re-sprayed with a green pigment and manicured to cover the damage. Aubert said he expects the damaged part of the bowling green to recover.

Then, on June 1, OVA’s landscape contractor, True North, installed a new irrigation timer for one of the grass areas near the Oakmont entrance signs at Oakmont Drive and Sonoma Highway. Less than a week later, it was discovered that the timer had been pulled off the wall, the power to the controller turned off, and that someone had taken a screwdriver to manually turn off individual sprinkler heads in the grass, causing some of the grass to die.

Most recently, on June 7, the underground irrigation controls near the bocce courts at the West Recreation Center were tampered with, cutting off the irrigation water supply even though the irrigation timer was still running.

“It’s been deliberate, it’s not just a random act,” said Aubert. “Someone has to know what they are doing.” Aubert said the OVA irrigation control systems are a bit more complicated than home sprinkler systems, so the perpetrator or perpetrators probably have some professional knowledge.

Aubert said they have added locks to the cabinets that house the irrigation booster pump and the irrigation timers for the Central Activities Center and lawn bowling green. Unfortunately, you can’t secure individual sprinklers, he said.

The motive for the vandalism is unknown, but Aubert wondered if it could be someone trying to make Oakmont look bad for some reason.

The vandalism has been reported to the Santa Rosa Police Department. Those who spot any suspicious activity should also contact the police department at 528-5222.

Sarah Phelps is an editor and reporter. She was raised in Kenwood and has a BA from Loyola Marymount University.

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