O.C. Model Engineers steamed over acts of vandalism at train depot in Fairview Park

A CMPD crime scene van outside the O.C. Model Engineers' train facility at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa on Dec. 1.
A Costa Mesa Police Department crime scene van parked Wednesday outside the Orange County Model Engineers’ train depot at Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park, where officers investigated an incident of vandalism.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Orange County Model Engineers — who offer free mini-train rides to the public at Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park — arrived at the depot Wednesday morning to find vandals had stormed the station and a nearby storage building, causing extensive, and costly, damage.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” member Hank Castignetti said of the scene. “We’ve had graffiti and stuff before, but they just destroyed the place. They went absolutely nuts.”

Suspects reportedly ripped shingles off the roof of the train depot, pried open metal roll-up windows, smashed nearby picnic tables and damaged the station’s water supply.

Locks and light fixtures were found ripped from their moorings, and fire extinguisher cases were broken into and their contents stolen.

Roof shingles strewn about the parking lot of the  O.C. Model Engineers facility at Costa Mesa's Fairview Park on Wednesday.
Roof shingles, torn from the roof of a model train depot at Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park, were strewn about the parking lot by vandals, whose work was discovered Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Fortunately, a fleet of model trains kept under lock and key in a compound on the site were not disturbed or broken into. Also, security cameras on that part of the property likely captured footage of whomever is behind the vandalism.

Castignetti said members, who filed a report with the Costa Mesa Police Department Wednesday morning, have estimated fixing the site could run upward of $10,000. The hit couldn’t have come at a worse time, he added.

“We’ve just almost finished replacing all of the old tracking — that’s been a six-year program that’s cost the club almost a quarter of a million dollars,” he said. “Then the bridge failed. That’s going to end up costing us almost $30,000 when all’s said and done.”

The O.C. Model Engineers mini-train facility at Costa Mesa's Fairview Park was reportedly damaged by vandals overnight.
Members of Orange County Model Engineers convened Wednesday to discuss how to repair damage caused during an overnight act of vandalism.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

OCME recently raised funds to replace a wooden trestle bridge that has stood on the property for the past three decades, but which was recently found to be deteriorating. Castignetti said members were working on a shoestring budget to complete the project sometime in spring.

Now, they will have to redouble their efforts in order to replace the station roof before the rainy season descends and repair the rest of the damage.

Wednesday morning found Castignetti attempting to convene members in a discussion about next steps.

“We’re going to have to decide what we’re going to do and what we can do,” he said.

Costa Mesa’s O.C. Model Engineers are on track to replace a damaged trestle bridge at Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park. But pandemic closures have made fundraising difficult.

Despite the recent damage, members say the trains themselves remain operable and were able to run Wednesday morning during an annual preschool holiday party. Free public rides are offered the third weekend of each month, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.