Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Trails and tribulation

On Nov. 18, I was proceeding down the 1.4 mile Dart Hill North Trail for which I am the volunteer trail manager in Vernon's Adopt-A-Trail Program.

In a 0.2-mile stretch I encountered several instances of vandalism and misuse: a natural bench built beside the Hockanum River by the Vernon Parks and Recreation Department had been uprooted and tossed into the river; a broken bicycle had been left in the woods beside the trail; a picnic bench had been thrown off a 10-foot elevated site; a large window screen was impaled on trees above the bench; a second bicycle was spotted; and some four dozen dirty diapers were left on the trail or twisted into a piece of plastic that was attached to a branch over the trail.

All of this had taken place since my last trip down that stretch of trail less than three weeks earlier.

This is an example of what volunteers may see on the trails and a microcosm of what the Vernon Parks and Recreation Department has to face on the trails and in the parks, camps, playing fields, and courts it maintains. The amount of time and expense it takes to try to keep up with the idiots that have nothing better to do than destroy or disfigure is intolerable.

This is a call to the people who use these facilities in Vernon, both resident and nonresident, to respect and participate in their maintenance: Report any vandals or vandalism, if in progress to the police, or after the act to Parks and Rec (870-3520); pick up after yourself and your pets; if you are a frequent user of one of the facilities, organize others you commonly see there to help keep it clean; or join an organization such as the Vernon Greenways Volunteers that assist Parks and Rec with the trails (872-6061).

The parks, camps, playing fields, courts and trails are Vernon's backyard. Treat them as you would want your own property treated.

Don Bellingham