Over the years that I have been in Grundy County, there have been a few (several) times where portions of our parks and wildlife areas have been intentionally damaged. Vandalism is such a senseless act. Well, I'm sad to report that it happened again last week.
I'll start by saying that over the past 32 years that I have been in Grundy County, I have seen the results of fire damage to a shelter, a restroom and a bridge. I have encountered piles of junk tires and remodeling debris at roadside parks and wildlife areas when people were too lazy to dispose of it properly. And there have been episodes of "off-roading" in developed picnic spots and wetland areas that have left their mark some almost permanently. How much fun can it be?
This past week's stupid human trick was to drive over and around a parking barricade and down one full mile of very soft Comet Recreational Trail from Wolf Creek Park toward Beaman. When the infant behind the wheel turned around at the road intersection, apparently that joy ride hadn't been quite enough fun because two stop sign posts were broken off before retracing their path back to the parking lot.
Readers of this column who are users of the Comet Trail should be angry. This portion of the Comet Trail is used annually for the Beaman Community's Gemini Run on Memorial Day weekend. The damage that resulted can't be adequately addressed until conditions warm and dry out.
But in addition to regular Comet Trail users justifiably upset, readers of this column who aren't users of this trail should be angered, as well. Any resident of Grundy County should be angered anytime that hard earned tax dollars will have to be spent to repair rather than develop.
Our department follows a program of addressing about one mile of new trail material a year. Sadly, this particular portion that was damaged had most recently been addressed. The time, effort, and funds needed to reclaim this mile means other portions of the trails suffer.
But take heart! The taxpayers of Grundy County may not be standing the expensive costs in repairing this damage. There were very good tire impressions left at the scene. Add to that some vehicle descriptions. There are others reading this with additional information. If so, I encourage you to call our office at (319)345-2688 or contact the Sheriff's office at (319)824-6933. This is likely not the end of the story. Citations and mandatory restitution. How much fun can it be?