Someone recently caused damage to several electric vehicle chargers at the Zeiterion Theater parking garage in Downtown New Bedford. The extent of the damage is still to be determined, but certainly, taxpayer money will have to be used to make repairs.

I first became aware of the vandalism last week when Elise Rapoza, New Bedford's ARPA (American Recovery Plan Act) Director, posted it on her Facebook page.

"Electric vehicle charges (sic) destroyed at the Z parking garage. According to the attendant, the homeless who sleep there did it out of boredom. The urinating in the halls I could partially excuse because nature calls, but this was uncalled for. Lots of electric vehicle drivers depend on those chargers," she wrote. The post was accompanied by a photo of a damaged EV charger.

Rapoza's post has since been removed.

Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

I texted Rapoza for more information, and she responded simply by saying, "Hey, Mike Lawrence will give you a call." Lawrence is the Public Information Officer for the City of New Bedford, so essentially he's Mayor Jon Mitchell's spokesman. He did not call, nor has he responded to an email seeking additional information about the vandalism.

To be clear, we cannot say with certainty who damaged the EV chargers since police have not filed charges in connection with the vandalism.

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Just how bad is the damage to the EV outlets? City Council President Ian Abreu told me the city's Traffic Commission is "looking into it."

Abreu, who said he has witnessed a person defecating in the elevator in the Zeiterion parking garage, said something needs to be done.

"I empathize with individuals in our community who are suffering from mental illness, but I also recognize that public safety and health must also be paramount and can never be compromised," he said. "Our residents and visitors deserve to feel safe whenever they walk our streets or use our downtown parking garages."

Abreu said he hopes the FY '23 state budget will include additional funding for mental health issues.

Councilor Brian Gomes, who chairs the Council Committee on Public Safety, was staunchly opposed to the closing of the downtown police station and this was one of the reasons why.

"This is just one more situation that is deteriorating life in the downtown area," he said. "The safety and cleanliness of downtown are critical to its success, if we can't do that, we're losing."

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