What is wrong with some people? What is wrong with their thinking today? Why do some people think they can destroy or deface property for no apparent reason? The answer? We don’t know.
In Southampton, there is a restful and meaningful spot on the Rail Trail known as the Memorial Gardens. Here, families have remembered loved ones with the planting of trees in what has become a Rail Trail resting spot, complete with a pavilion perfect for a picnic, benches to sit quietly and commune with nature and a fountain for a cool drink, including for four-legged companions.
Recently, however, the spot has become more than a place of rest and memories.
Several days ago, there appeared to be a ‘party’ at the Memorial Garden pavilion. The evidence was that the pavilion was completely littered with empty alcohol bottles and cans and other ‘garbage’. There were cigarette burns on the picnic table that is provided for those who want a rest stop and the Adirondack chairs were tossed about.
The question is … can you not have a ‘party’ or get-together and behave in a civil manner with a little respect for property?
The Gardens also feature living memorial trees planted by families in remembrance of loved ones. There are signs everywhere that indicate the message behind the Gardens. So, the question begs to be answered … why? Why would any group or individuals not respect a site like this? Is it so hard to put garbage or ‘beverage’ cans and bottles into the garbage receptacles that are there? Why, when there are ‘no smoking’ signs posted everywhere, would there be significant burn marks on the picnic table?
Interestingly enough … left behind by this group were two Bibles.
Following this incident, only a few days later, the damage was even greater. There was wanton destruction for no apparent reason. The lock on a storage shed was broken with a piece of re-bar steel from a near-by construction site. Tree lopping shears were taken from the shed and used to cut an Adirondack chair provided by the town for pedestrians and cyclists who use the Trail and may want a time-out resting spot. Then, the cutters were used to try to slice through the picnic benches that were there. A no-smoking sign was pried off the wall in the pavilion and then another was bent in an effort to remove it from a wall.
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“I can understand theft where someone actually takes something,” says Gerry Boucher, past-President of the Rail Trail Association and a retired RCMP officer, “but to willfully destroy property for no reason takes another kind of person and mentality.”
There is no doubt that the site is dark and secluded at night. The Rail Trail Association (RTA) purchased and installed a solar light panel that was damaged by someone throwing rocks and that now only operates at 80 per cent capacity at most. The RTA has approached the Town in the past to install a motion detection light and a solar-driven security camera, to no avail. How much property damage has to be incurred before security measures are taken. It has been proven that a simple motion detection light deters those who might want to create damage and also alerts near-by residents that there is activity in the area … a safety concern for all particularly late at night. A security camera is an even more significant deterrent but one that may also determine those who are incurring the damage.
“We are afraid that this willful damage will escalate,” says Boucher. “When there is damage like this with no theft but just destructive damage, then there is a problem. It is entirely possible that this can escalate and this is a memorial garden space in honour of loved ones. Obviously, those who did this damage do not feel the same respect for the purpose of the gardens.”
Boucher added that he hopes anyone in the area who hears or sees anything unusual will contact local police. “If it is a non-life-threatening situation, instead of calling 911, local residents can call 519-832-2525 for quick police action.