Trail Tales

By on August 5, 2015

Residents react to graffiti and reported disrespectful behavior on Rail Trail

The subject of vandalism and disruptive behavior on the Ephrata Rail Trail  became a sore subject this week among many residents.

The issue took wings on The Ephrata Review’s social media pages Monday after pictures were posted of graffiti that occurred on the Rail Trail sometime between Friday night and Monday morning. The vandalism stretches from AY Mechanical to Complete Restorations.

Responses on The Ephrata Review’s Facebook page allowed residents to vent and provide suggestions on what police might do to resolve problems on the trail.

Many residents have suggested a greater police presence or install cameras along the trail.

The traffic on the trail appears to pick up every day — especially on the weekends — as the trail has extended into Akron and Ephrata Township, residents say.20150803_060012 (Small)

Kristy Miller said she loves the trail as it continue to get longer, “however it does seem to be a hangout among teens. I imagine the problems are only going to grow.”

Brenda Murphy, who is on the  trail almost every day, said he sees “way more good than bad there.”

“I have met some incredible people on this trail. Just on Saturday, I had a group of individuals gather in a circle, lay hands on me and pray for me,” Murphy noted. “Earlier on the trail they were singing worship songs — so peaceful.  That being said I do not live along the trail and it does seem like there is more trouble toward town. I see more families on the extended end toward Akron.”

20150803_060302 (Small)Other residents complained of individuals smoking and graffiti on a sign that reads “No Smoking Young Lungs at Play.”

Ephrata Police ask the public to immediately report disruptive behavior on the Rail Trail.

Police Chief William Harvey said Monday that he understands residents’ frustration and asked that anyone who sees disruptive behavior on the trail to immediately report it to police.

“The trail’s phone poles are numbered with GPS positioning data that will direct us to exactly where there is a problem,” Harvey said.

He said it’s been difficult to gauge when the disruptive activity is taken place on the trail and that cameras come with reliability and cost issues.

“First of all you’d have to have a person looking at the camera (feeds) and cameras are going to cost a lot of money,” Harvey said.  “Secondly, cameras can do only so much because of the limited field  they’d  provide due to the canopy of trees along the trail.”

But Jody Lee suggested that kids tend to hang at certain sections of the trail.  “If I called every time disruptive behavior happened on the trail between AY and the Queen Street basketball court, I would be on the phone all night, every night,” he wrote.20150803_055948 (Small)

Dana Sultzbach-Hummel noted that “a few strategically placed cameras would do the trick. Don’t let the few bad eggs ruin it for everyone.”

And  many others, such as Stephanie Messer Harley, a business owner and a member of the Ephrata Merchants Association, believe cameras are still an option. She noted that borough council had discussed installing cameras at the Whistle Stop Plaza area not long ago.

“I believe it is a funding issue and there was discussion of applying for a grant,” Harley said.

One resident reported seeing a motorized ATV on the trail pulling a skateboarder, another found condoms on a side trail.

Molly Arvin Harple, whose home is in front of the trail said she’s notified the borough about problems and “could write a book on “what I have seen and heard on this trail.”

Harple said the borough promised to beef up police bike patrols but “nothing has improved.”

Nancy Kauffman and Wendy Hart were among many who believe police bike patrols on the trail will go a  long way.

“I think police should ride up and down the trail,” Hart noted. “Friends of mine were on the trail yesterday with their family and they had a horrible experience (with) kids blocking the trail whole …People need to be respectful and common courtesy to others.”

Joanne Martin Bender echoed most residents’ opinions who joined The Ephrata Review’s Facebook discussion stating “It’s a shame that once again, a few bad eggs have to ruin something that benefits the community.”

Andrea Campbell called for people “to respect each other and property.”

“The community is finally doing something great. Kids or adults can you have enough respect for yourself not to ruin it for everyone else?” Campbell asked.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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