Our Opinion: We're better than this

Thursday July 18, 2013

Traveling around Brattleboro, you're sure to notice all of the great beautification projects going on around town. Flowers on Main Street, nice displays off of Exits 1, 2 and 3, decorations on and around area bridges ... well, you get the point.

These efforts, for the most part, are all thanks to a handful of dedicated groups and individuals who rely on donations and who give of their own free time to make Brattleboro something to be proud of -- for residents and visitors alike.

We should make more of an effort to recognize this hard work and offer thanks, and for that we apologize.

That said, it was especially troubling to hear that vandals recently took the time to destroy all this hard work, over at the Creamery Bridge. It's an area former Selectboard Chairman Dick DeGray, along with his wife, have spent a lot of time turning into a visual delight.

"Usually I go out every morning and water the flowers," DeGray told the editorial board on Wednesday evening. "Today I didn't ... and then (Town Manager) Barb (Sondag) called to ask if I had seen what happened."

What had happened was that some person or group, at some point after sunset on Tuesday, ripped up most of the planted flowers and took several of the hanging baskets and tossed them all into the Whetstone, below.

"I cannot fathom why someone would do this," DeGray said. "My wife and I have spent a tremendous amount of time on beautification (around town). ... People see these things and thank us. We don't do it for the recognition, we do it for the joy it brings others."

And as much as it is the principle of the matter, DeGray also said there's a monetary factor to this vandalism. Various local organizations such as Rasheed's, West Brattleboro Association and the Brattleboro Holstein Association have donated funds to purchase flowers and baskets, DeGray said. That's in addition to the out-of-pocket expenses he and his wife share.

And to be clear, it's not just the DeGrays behind these efforts all over town; various other local groups put a lot of time and effort into making Brattleboro a pretty place to live or visit.

Perhaps most troubling, this isn't the first time this has happened. Earlier this year, hanging baskets at Pliney Park were destroyed; this past winter, vandals cut the wires of lights DeGray had used to decorate Creamery Bridge, and the Christmas tree and associated equipment at the Common were damaged; and last year someone ruined basket displays downtown near the Co-op.

DeGray thinks there's a small group or a couple of people walking around with issues causing all the damage.

"They care not for other people's personal property and they get some sort of satisfaction out of the destruction."

Unfortunately, without an eyewitness there's probably not much the police can do.

"People need to be vigilant," DeGray said. "They should keep an eye on all the beautification around town."

So, at what point do you throw up your hands and say it's not worth it?

"I'm not at that point yet," DeGray said. "But I'm getting close."

Let's hope he, along with the other groups around town, don't reach that point. Because there's many of us who call Brattleboro home who do recognize all the hard work and effort going on with these beautification projects. Our hats off to you.

And to those few bad seeds: Shame on you!


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