By Marjorie Nesin
---- — When Eagle Scout Alan Davis discovered that vandals had destroyed the posts in his Digital Dogtown project, part of a smartphone guided tour through the Dogtown woods, he was disappointed but inspired to rebuild.
Since that discovery, Davis was featured in a Times article, and news spread elsewhere about his hacked-apart Eagle Scout project. Then, responses from concerned people poured in — some to Davis, others to the city’s Open Space Committee that helped guide the initial project and still others to the Times.
“All of the responses have been really nice, a lot of sympathy,” Davis, a 17-year-old Gloucester High student, said Thursday afternoon. “People are talking about how they’re sick of this kind of thing happening.”
Some callers offered to chip in whatever they could including money, physical labor and supplies and materials. Though Davis is waiting to accept donations until he can set up an account, he has asked that people interested in helping out in any way send emails to him at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, Rockport resident Doris Rollins, a 94-year-old King Street resident, called the Times Thursday, looking to donate to support the rebuild. Rollins said that, as she read about the damage, a memory from about 86 years ago, when she was in the third grade, popped back into her head — an incident she had never forgotten.
When Rollins was in third grade, her dad had fixed up a little hut for her in their backyard where she would spend hours playing with her dolls — until one day some young boys ransacked it.
“I’m sure that it wasn’t as gorgeous as it is in my mind, but somebody did that to it, too, and I never forgot it,” she said. “When I read this, I thought I knew how they felt. I thought ‘oh the poor kid’ and then to have them go up there and see it after you’ve worked hard on something.”
As Davis looks toward rebuilding, he is again consulting with the city’s Department of Public Works and the Open Space Committee for approval and suggestions on the project. He hopes to find a sturdier material than the 4-by-4 inch wooden posts, something less vulnerable to vandalism.
Though a handful of residents had questioned the signs’ implementation in Dogtown, City project manager Steve Winslow said Davis had followed all of the proper procedures and even taken extra steps to consult with city officials.
“He took the community initiative. He came to the committee with the idea and showed the committee what the plan was,” Winslow said. “It was done in a respectful way, and unfortunately people didn’t respect that effort.”
While Winslow said he understands that some people like to see Dogtown free of any man-made objects, the sign posts were a positive addition to the woods, allowing visitors to take in information about their surroundings.
“We want to keep Dogtown with that wild feeling, but it’s also a place of mystery and we want to let people learn something about that mystery and history,” Winslow said.
Once Davis rebuilds the project, any left over donations in the fund will remain in the account for on future maintenance he said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.