Alan Davis spent nearly six months designing and installing the 19 guideposts spread throughout the Dogtown trails in Gloucester. When he went to check on the posts after a March storm, he found many of them hacked to bits, burned, or completely gone, he said.
The 17-year-old Gloucester resident earned his Eagle Scout honors on Sunday, thanks in part to the guidepost project that now lies in shambles. In addition to directing hikers along trails, the posts had digital QR codes that visitors could scan with their smartphones to view historical blurbs about Dogtown that Davis and his schoolmates had spent months researching.
“A little under 250 hours of work went into it,” Davis said in a telephone interview today. “There’s probably more than half [of the posts] that are destroyed.”
Noel Mann, a member of Gloucester’s Open Space and Recreation Commission, said that many people in the area don’t want the Dogtown trails flooded with tourists.
“[Trail guideposts] have been consistently vandalized for the last 20 years, maybe longer,” she said. “We would love to know who is doing this but nobody does.”
Davis said the post at the entrance to the trails appeared to have been knocked over by a car that carefully backed into the guidepost to avoid hitting two nearby signs. Other posts were torn out of the ground and burned or chopped into pieces, he said.
“It’s probably about five or six miles of trail to get to all these posts,” said Roger Davis, Alan’s father. “Someone seems to be offended by their presence and has set out to systematically destroy them.”
Alan Davis said he plans to spend the summer talking to the city government and community members about how to improve the guideposts and then reinstall the ones that were destroyed.
“I especially want to hear about the people who don’t like them and how we can make it so it doesn’t offend them,” he said.
Todd Feathers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.