Vandals Graffiti the Rail Trail

Ridgefielders are stumped and annoyed by the repeated spray painting on the trail.

Who dunnit?

This is what Ridgefielder Terry McManus wonders when considering who has been grafting graffiti on the power poles along the rail trail in town.

It started in mid 2005, said McManus, an avid, longtime beeline trail walker. She began noticing spray-painted racial slurs on a few of the poles, which quickly spread to more and more poles as the language also became increasingly vulgar. She decided she had to do something.

"I couldn't believe something like this was happening in this area," she said. "At first it was just one or two poles, and it quickly became about 14 poles. So I decided to call the police," she said.

The Ridgefield police handle these types of calls by sending an officer to the scene, taking pictures, and keeping a record of it on file, according to procedure. Police Capt. Cliff Scharf, the department public information officer, was unavailable for comment late last week but has said previously that no police report has been filed on the Rail Trail graffiti.

Next, McManus contacted the office of First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

"They were very helpful and pointed me in the right direction. They gave me the necessary contact information for Northeast Utility's office, who owns the poles and oversees the property along the trail," McManus said.

That's when  Northeast Utility employee Tony Johnson stepped in, McManus said, agreeing that action was needed to eliminate and regulate the graffiti. Johnson supplied all of the necessary equipment and supplies to paint over the poles.

McManus' sons, Jack and Drew Truskowski, both members of Boy Scout troop 431, along with Scoutmaster Dave Lussier, organized a work party in fall 2007 to clean up the poles. A team of volunteers, including about 12  scouts, members of the Garden Club and Conservation Commission, showed up to help.

"Tony was so supportive," McManus said. "He supplied the paint, rollers, brushes, and even brought coffee for the volunteers. It was a great effort and everyone was so helpful," she said.

After their cleanup efforts, they did not see anymore graffiti until about a year later, when it began appearing again on the poles. Again, they painted over it. The most recent pole-painting efforts were last month.

Today the poles remain clean, with the exception of the flat gray paint that covers the indecent evidence of what has become known as the "Rail Trail vandals."

"I don't know if we'll ever find out who did it, but hopefully they'll be discouraged from doing it again if they see that we're keeping an eye on it," McManus said.


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