, Gloucester, MA

April 13, 2013

Letter: Dogtown deserves better city protection

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Tuesday’s Times featured a most disconcerting story about the latest senseless act in an all-too-frequent pattern of vandalism in Dogtown.

Alan Davis devoted hundreds of hours of valuable time to create something that would benefit the city rather than idle away his time playing video games or causing trouble. However, some ignorant, low-class, immature people destroyed Davis’s hard work in the traditional modus operandi of the coward — under the cover of darkness.

Anyone who spends any time in Dogtown knows that vandalism and litter is as commonplace as the stone walls. Dogtown, by day, is a popular recreation spot for all Cape Anners; by night, it is a campground for homeless derelicts and a party spot for the city’s underage drinkers. On each subsequent visit to Dogtown, I find a new camp and/or party spot strewn with empty alcohol containers, and graffiti-defaced rocks.

The city owes it to all of Gloucester’s residents and guests to step up efforts to clean out the illegal activity in Dogtown, not only to preserve a cultural and natural resource, but to ensure the safety of visitors and residents of the surrounding area.

As a history teacher, local historian, and lover of the outdoors, it pains me to see the ongoing and escalating destruction of one of Gloucester’s most precious assets and the city’s failure to curb it. As a realist, I know better than to expect a nightly police patrol of the Dogtown trails as police assets, in the scheme of things, are best used elsewhere in town.

The city should utilize reserve police or volunteers empowered as Dogtown constables in the tradition of Joe Orange. A consistent visible and vigilant presence is the only viable solution to reclaiming Dogtown and keeping the public safe.

With this in mind, I urge the city of Gloucester to take action.