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April 10, 2013

Editorial: 'Digital Dogtown' deserves revival

It’s hard to know where to begin to describe how offensive it was to learn of the shameful vandalism carried out against Gloucester Eagle Scout Alan Davis’s acclaimed “Digital Dogtown” mapping and marker project, as reported first in Tuesday’s Times.

Indeed, it was painful to even look at the decimated markers that, not long ago, pointed out many special locations within Gloucester’s treasured northern woods to hikers and anyone else who either set out to see some of Dogtown’s present and long past landmarks, or just happened to stumble upon them.

But we hope that the apparently willful and mean-spirited destruction of his project doesn’t discourage Alan from resurrecting it. And it should also not discourage city officials and residents from lending him a hand and other resources to do so — perhaps setting the digital markers in granite, like the downtown HarborWalk, rather than wood, or taking some other steps to make them more secure.

One of the most chilling aspects of Marjorie Nesin’s Tuesday story was the comment from Eagle Scout Davis himself that he “expected one (of the markers) to be vandalized,” just not the entire series of 19. Sadly, that’s understandable, but it’s still not acceptable.

If police are able to track down any of those responsible for this true crime against our community, we hope that they and Gloucester District Court jurists treat them with the severity they deserve. But more importantly, let’s hope the city and others can lend Alan a few hands to keep his vow to rebuild. Digital Dogtown wasn’t “just” an Eagle Scout project — it was a true community resource, and should indeed be given every chance to rise again.

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