Girl Scouts are latest victims of vandalism

Girl Scouts returning to their day camp at Clatter Valley Park in New Milford last week found the site in shambles, with tents torn and supplies destroyed.

The vandalism occurred overnight.

Coloring books were soaked in cleaning fluid, bubble solution dumped and crayons taken and burned in the nearby pavilion, said Scout leader Kim Brusser.

The fire was started with hand-sanitizer fluid from dispensers torn from port-a-potties at the camp, she said.

New Milford Parks & Recreation director Dan Calhoun said such vandalism is not unusual. This summer, Clatter Valley and Sega Meadow town parks have been hit hard, he said.

At Reservoir Park -- not under Parks & Recreation purview -- vandals have several times done damage, destroying bridges, kiosks and signs. Large rocks and a wooden gate were spray-painted with graffiti.

A cleanup in May collected numerous bags of garbage and buckets of motor oil.

"Public Works put up this beautiful fence to go along with the gazebo installed by an Eagle Scout project and this happens," said Sally Talarico, volunteer coordinator for Friends of Reservoir Park.

New Milford police regularly patrol the parks, but the vandalism typically occurs in areas that are not highly visible from the road, Calhoun said.

"There was no structural damage to the pavilion (at Clatter Valley), but the crayons burned and melted and the melted wax was spread all over," he said.

The Scouts use that park throughout the year, so dads and moms were cleaning up the mess. Power washers were brought in Friday.

"Vandals targeted the kindergarten-through-first-grade tent. A couple of years ago, they damaged our car port tents and set off fireworks inside the day tents," said Brusser, who noted 187 Scouts and adults were at the camp this year.

At Sega Meadows Park, vandals have repeatedly taken its aluminum gate. Picnic tables and benches have been regularly thrown in the pond, kiosks and signs damaged.

A fishing dock, built by kids with members of the police department, is repeatedly cut loose and set afloat in the pond, Calhoun said.

"It's disheartening for all of us," he said.

Calhoun did not have a tally of costs accrued through vandalism.; 860-355-7322