Three summers of parking tickets, towed cars and police watching the woods have stemmed the teenage flood heading to the quarries in Lanesville.
Well, for the most part.
But this summer, young people are visiting the Klondike Reservoir, an old quarry that serves as a source of the city’s drinking water. Earlier this month, police chased out two dozen out-of-towners who were swimming there. This past Sunday, police told two groups of teenagers to leave the area.
Over the last few years, the Lanesville quarries have drawn an increasing number of revelers, mostly from off the island, who plastered the old quarries with litter and graffiti. In 2010, neighbors had enough. They started a petition to close Vernon’s and Nelson’s pits, their energy manifested in a litany of new parking restrictions on streets near quarries and a stronger police presence.
“I’d say it’s worked. The big concern for the city as a whole is to keep signage up there so we can tow the cars,” said Gloucester police Lt. Joe Aiello.
He said the stepped-up parking enforcement has reduced the number of people heading to the Lanesville quarries over the last two years. Officers also cracked down on public drinking and swimming out in the pits. While it’s worked for the most part, Aiello said keeping groups out of the quarries will be a constant summer problem.
“It isn’t perfect,” Aiello said, “but it certainly is a community effort to bring peace to the neighborhood.”
The initial enforcement, he said, focused on Vernon’s and Nelson’s pits, set in the woods between High, Hickory and Quarry streets. Tow charges hit kids in the pocketbook, and routine patrols show visitors that police keep a close watch around the pits.
Two weeks ago, 24 kids from Revere, diving in the Klondike Reservoir, found that out the hard way. Klondike, Aiello said, draws people just like the other quarries do. And with the stepped up enforcement on parking, Klondike’s easier for people to get to than Vernon’s and Nelson’s.
‘Unfortunately, they think they can swim in our water system,” Aiello said. “It’s fenced off, posted and we drink that water, we don’t want people in it.”
Aiello said Officer Mark Foote, who patrols the area in the evenings, issued somewhere around 20 citations to that group. Police almost had to arrest a lot of them, Aiello said, as they tried to make clear how serious swimming in the water supply is. City Environmental Engineer Larry Durkin did not return a call for comment on this story
“I guarantee those twenty-odd kids from Revere won’t be come back,” said Aiello.
Since July, police have chased a few groups of teenagers out of the quarries. But, Aiello said, it’s nothing like the 100 or so kids police chased out of the quarries in 2010. Police arrested four people for alcohol-related violations then.
Policing those quarries he said, is a matter of manpower. But police work closely with neighbors and Ward Councilor Jackie Hardy. Hardy did not return a call for comment on this story
“It’s taken a tremendous amount of work by the neighbors, the ward councilor and police to get it to where it is,” Aiello said.
Young Street resident Damon Cummings said he has seen fewer cars parking in his neighborhood since the signs went up. Though, he added, the parked cars didn’t really bother him in the first place.
“I’m sure it’s moved parking on the streets around where I lived to Lanes Cove,” Cummings said.
The cove is seeing more traffic, said Barbara Jobe, who lives on Duley Street. She said she sees people walk up from Lanes Cove to the quarries, as they can park around the cove. While the increase isn’t usually a problem, she said some of the visitors are starting to trash the cove.
“We’re getting people who really don’t care about the cove,” Jobe said.
That, she said, and some of the visitors are defecating in the woods near the cove as well. A portable toilet, Jobe added, would solve that problem.
The cove, she said, like the quarries, has been discovered.
Lanesville’s been discovered, and how to deal with that, Aiello said, isn’t an easy solution.
“(The pits are) a draw,” he said, “and how to stop that draw has been up for debate for a long time.”
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT.