Grim Future For Freedom Park
CREATED Jul. 2, 2013
Omaha, NE - One of Omaha's most historic parks has been closed since 2011. Tonight, it appears the future of Freedom Park, is uncertain.
Warning signs and padlocks keep visitors out of Freedom Park. The city could not let us inside to see what it looks like. We acted on a tip and asked about vandalism beyond the entrance gates, we learned, the tip was true.
Beyond the entrance of the park, pieces of American history are slowly being stolen. "It's very discouraging because we had the park in great shape before the flood," says Brook Bench, Omaha parks and recreation director.
After the 2011 floods, Freedom Park needed major cleanup to reopen. Two years later, Action 3 News confirmed there is no running water or electricity at the museum. The USS hazard ship needs new paint and the 530 ton ship is still tilted.
On top of maintenance, thieves are stealing metal from several historic artifacts, and selling it for scrap. "It's pitch black back there, we have no power so unfortunately we have some people have gotten in there and tried to do some vandalism and taken some steel," says Bench.
Theft has been an ongoing problem since the park closed, the last theft took place only weeks ago. The city even installed security cameras. Those cameras were also stolen.
The city wouldn't show us what the USS Hazard looks like. Bench says the damage, is in the thousands. Action 3 News learned from sources that the helicopter and USS ship have been ripped of copper and metal. Bench says thieves will not receive a high return for the stolen material and if caught, the city will prosecute
We asked if the park will permanently close. Bench says it's too early to know. The city is still making decisions on what to do with Freedom Park. World War II enthusiasts hope the park reopens. The USS Hazard is the last minesweeper left in the world that is still in original condition.