GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — A damaged and vandalized public restroom at the park at Patriot Lake spurred a group of local business people into action to repair the facility.

Steven Fitzgerald, owner of Smithville Barber Shoppe, said he knew he had to act and do something to repair the building after seeing an article in The Press of Atlantic City.

Friday morning, Fitzgerald and two other men descended on the park with tools and supplies to make the repairs to the restroom.

Last week, township resident Dick Price spoke out about the conditions at the park and urged that the community needs to step up to help. Township officials pointed to a lack of funding and depleted manpower that have stopped the building from being repaired.

“The town has been busy, and this was probably low on their list of priorities. I would assume with what has gone on in the downtown there has been a lot of upgrading there. There have also been a lot of cuts in town,” Fitzgerald said.

The 4-acre recreation area, which includes Patriot Lake, opened in 2003. It is located on the municipal complex grounds adjacent to the Atlantic County Library building.

Fitzgerald said the playground there is “outstanding,” and both his and Price’s children go there.

Andy Dailey, of Absecon, is a Village Greene employee and an Iraq War veteran who was moved to help, particularly because of the park’s standing monument to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

“I’m all about giving back. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? I feel like you’ve got to do what you can to give back to the community,” Dailey said.

All told, the repairs cost the local business people $130 and a few hours to complete on Friday morning.

“We put up 13 pieces of vinyl siding and used the same color caulking to fill in some of the holes in the building that were there. We also reattached some pieces that were loose and hanging off the building,” said Fitzgerald, who has owned Smithville Barber Shoppe for the last seven years.

Mayor Don Purdy said he and Township Manager Arch Liston were going to look at the budget to come up with a plan to make repairs at the restroom.

“This shows how strong our community is and the goodwill of the residents to come out and do things to make our community a better place to live,” Purdy said.

While the township appreciates the men’s efforts to repair the building, officials will be moving to remove the vinyl siding and install concrete boarding on the building, so it cannot be damaged, Purdy said. A group of union carpenters will be completing the work at no cost to the township, Purdy said.

Now that the outside of the restroom has been repaired, he said, the township will continue to focus on fixing the inside of the facility, which has been vandalized and damaged during the past several years.

Police Chief Pat Moran said the restrooms have been locked because of the vandalism, including toilets and other features ripped off the walls.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.