A Fort Wayne, Indiana community center was set to open this summer. However, those plans may have to change thanks to a mischievous squirrel that caused approximately $300,000 in damages to the McMillen Park Community Center.
Officials with the Parks Department explained what happened and how the squirrel caused so much damage. Apparently, the furry critter found a way into McMillen Park’s electrical equipment and began to gnaw the wires. This in turn caused a power surge throughout the center, which damaged parts of the building’s boiler system as well as all three heating and air conditioning systems to the hefty tune of $300,000. Officials went on to say that the squirrel did not survive the ordeal. Most likely, it was electrocuted and died during the power surge.
While McMillen Park has insurance that will cover the cost of repairs, they will incur a $50,000 deductible. Experts are diligently working to repair the $300,000 in damages caused by the rogue squirrel in an effort to get the McMillen Park Community Center ready for its scheduled opening on June 7.
At the time of the incident, what had once been McMillen Ice Arena, which had closed to the public in 2009, was undergoing a nearly $2 million transformation to become McMillen Park. The new park is going to be a full service community center that will give area residents a wide range of activities, such as soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, an indoor track, and much more. In all, the massive project is estimated to top out at a cost of $4.5 million. However, that price has just gone up by $300,000 thanks to the damages caused by the squirrel.
It is unclear exactly how the squirrel made entry into the community center, but squirrels, as well as other rodents, are well known for causing significant damage to homes and other structures once inside. Typically, these pests gain entry through chimneys, gaps in external covering, or other openings in a building. Often times, a point of entry can be something as simple as an unscreened vent. In this case, McMillen Park was undergoing heavy construction, which most likely afforded the squirrel a variety of different access points.
Squirrels often seek shelter in homes and other structures because they are looking for nesting sites. However, once they are inside, they do more than just bed down and have babies; they begin to gnaw and eat away at wiring, which can cause a fire. Other problems include smelly insulation; urine soaked ceiling tiles, flooding, and spread of disease from the squirrels and the parasites and insects that live with and on them.
In most cases, squirrels are easily detectible because of the noise they make; however, due to construction, this one went undetected until it was too late and damages costing $300,000 were sustained.
Squirrels and other like-kind rodents can be removed from homes and other structures by professionals who catch them using specially designed traps. Once caught, the animals are released back into the wild unharmed and repairs are made to the building to prevent repeat occurrences in the future.
It is too bad that this squirrel was not detected earlier so it could be safely removed and prevent it from causing $300,000 in damages to the McMillen Park Community Center.
Opinion By Donna W. Martin