The vandalism of an American flag reported by Kim Martin recently is very disturbing, and not only for its symbolism. Vandalism is a common occurrence in Scotland, especially in public facilities. In the last couple of years, we have lost numerous road signs, many of which were taken along with their posts. Playground equipment at Bowers Park has been destroyed, along with the storage shed on the property, and I recently chased away some kids on dirt bikes and four-wheelers who were tearing up the sledding hill. The decorative signs near the town lines on Rtes. 14 and 97 have been stolen or defaced. A stone bench on the Green was tipped over. An obscenity was spray painted on a tree on Plains Road.
I could go on, but you get the picture. It's expensive--those gateway signs cost nearly $8000 (paid for through donations), and the replacement parts for the park playscape (which was damaged twice) have cost more than $3000. Even worse, it's demoralizing. It makes you lose heart about your neighbors, and about the prospects for any improvements. We have not replaced the gateway signs, and I don't foresee doing so any time in the near future. We were offered (for free) a radar-equipped speed sign, a device proven to increase traffic safety, but I declined on the grounds that it was too likely to be vandalized. Every time we think about investing money in amenities, we have to weigh the possibility that it will be damaged, defaced, or destroyed maliciously. That's just sad--and infuriating.
It is not unlikely that the perpetrators live here. Certainly, they know where their targets are located. That they may well come from among us makes it worse. We are all owners of public property, and the contempt these acts show toward us is galling, and should not be tolerated. Of course, we could put up cameras everywhere and possibly identify the perpetrators, and we very well may do that. But in the meantime, please keep your eyes open, and inform me of vandalism you have noticed so that we can take care of it, both by repairing it and by working with the State Police to address it. Finally, do not hesitate to remind your children and grandchildren that we all have to share this world, which is hard enough to begin with and only gets harder with every act of vandalism.