ITHACA, N.Y. — The Cascadilla Gorge Trail was vandalized for the second time in six months this week, says Cornell Plantations Director of Natural Areas Todd Bittner.
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“Very disrespectful folks are vandalizing the area,” Bittner says.
According to Bittner, an individual or individuals painted parts of seven locations, in one case covering a 30 x 3 area in paint along the rocky wall facing the creek.
Additionally, the Van-Doren Gate, which marks one entrance to the trail, was defaced, Bittner said.
A similar such act was committed earlier this year, with significant portions of the trail and the Gorge surrounding it being spray-painted.
The trail, which was originally constructed through the Cascadilla Gorge between 1928 and 1931, fell into disrepair and had to be closed around six years ago. However, as a result of community efforts and the work of the Cornell plantations, the trail was re-done and re-opened in the Fall of 2014.
Bittner stressed the importance of the trail to the community, and the work that had been done to restore it.
“These are beloved placed that the community enjoys and loves,” he said, “ …to hear from the community how much they appreciated it and how much they loved it […] We heard a resounding thank you.”
Though the suspects have not been identified, Bittner said that he and other Plantation leaders are “…hoping, through our outreach with the public, to ask the folks in the community if they have any knowledge of vandalism to contact Cornell police.”
As for repairs, none has started for either acts of vandalism due to the difficult nature of the task, Bittner said. (Pedestrians are urged to contact Cornell police if they see further vandalism.)
“We actually have six different materials and surfaces that have been vandalized, which will change the tools that we use. They may all end up being unique in terms of how you treat each one […] nothing can go into the creek so everything we do has to be able to be done in that environment.”
Though volunteer labor will not be used in repairing the trail, and no fundraising effort will be undertaken, the Plantations does receive 80% of its funding from donation, so leaders are hoping to always looking for assistance in funding the project.
Bittner added that he did not see this as an instance of legitimate artwork within the community.
“To deface an historic piece of art, if you will, that is something that had been created and maintained for almost 90 years, I don’t think that spray-paint on top of that brings anything good,” he said.