August 25, 2010

Vandals gone wild . . . again

The information sign at Broadview Farm was toppled by vandals.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Vandals gone wild – no, it's not the title of another raunchy live action video; it's actually the best way to describe the latest late-night spree at Broadview Farm Conservation Area.
Sometime overnight Monday into Tuesday vandals kicked their usual mischief up a notch, decapitating the sturdy wood-frame information board that welcomes visitors, tagging a picnic table with graffiti and busting through the 160-foot post and rail cedar border fence in two places.
“Over the years we've had damage, but this is the crowning blow,” said Ellie Sarcione, a long time conservationist in town who yesterday had settled somewhere between frustrated and angry over the chronic vandalism.
Conservation Commission Chair Margi Ives discovered the damage early yesterday morning, and called vice chair Paul Dionne, who contacted police.
“Further down the road there were two mailbox posts knocked over, too. I think it's the kids – I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon, but it's getting out of hand,” Dionne said.
Late night parties have been going on for years in the woods at both the Young Road site as well as the Cole Marsh conservation site, evidenced by spent beer cans and bottles regularly retrieved by commission members, usually found strewn near campfire rings.
“Over the weekend they left a campfire going on top of the hill at Cole Marsh. The fire department was called out by neighbors after the fire spread to some of the brush,” said Conservation Commission member Dennis Wiley.
Dionne said in an effort to reclaim the conservation sites for those who want to go hiking or camping, the Conservation Commission has tried posting signs advising that the area is off limits after sunset.
“The first sign they took down. The second one they vandalized,” Dionne said.
For a while he became a vigilante, driving by nightly on his own and telling anyone loitering there to move on.
“But I was advised not to continue doing that by police, for my own safety,” said Dionne.
“You know, growing up there used to be a cop that walked the beat in my neighborhood, all year long. He knew your parents and he knew you. That in itself was a deterrent. It's not that way anymore,” Dionne said. “I know what it's like to be a kid – I have kids of my own, but this is just senseless vandalism.”
He said the Commission is considering tangible deterrents – adding some kind of street light across from the parking area at the trail head, and clearing some of the foliage that blocks the view from across the road.
“Maybe then neighbors or even the fire department would be able to see if there was anything going on over here,” Dionne said.
He said fence posts and camping platforms are consistently destroyed or left a mess with trash, cans and bottles. Ives has repainted picnic tables three or four times to cover the spray paint.
“The information sign was built for us by an Eagle Scout – it's one of many Scout projects here over the years. A lot of work went into that,” Dionne said.
Scouts from Cub Pack 402 rallied 40 volunteer workers to construct the cedar fence a decade ago, receiving credit toward the World Conservation Award.
Repairing and replacing the damage doesn't feel like enough, said Dionne.
“We just want to know why – why destroy something that is here for everyone's enjoyment. It's supposed to be a refuge,” Dionne said. “We can keep doing what we're doing, fixing the damage and cleaning up the mess, but it doesn't solve the problem, or give these kids different morals.”

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