Townshend gazebo smashed by 71-year-old alleged drunken driver

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TOWNSHEND — The town's gazebo was damaged by an alleged drunken driver from Connecticut on Friday night.

According to the Vermont State Police, a single-vehicle crash was reported on Route 30 at the town common. Police say David U. Page III, 71, of Noank, Conn., was traveling north on Route 30 at about 9:42 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, when his vehicle exited the paved roadway and traveled approximately 158 feet across the town common until it smashed into the town's gazebo and came to a stop.

"He certainly did miss the corner and went over the island," said Craig Hunt, assistant to the town Select Board.

Page was arrested for driving under the influence and was ordered held at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield by Vermont Superior Court criminal division officials. According to the state police, Page failed field sobriety tests and had a .181 percent BrAC on the preliminary breath test. No individuals were harmed at the incident, but the town's historic gazebo was damaged. The gazebo, which currently sits on the Village Green, was constructed for Chevy Chase's 1988 movie "Funny Farm."

"The gazebo was built as a prop and was offered to the town and we decided to keep it," said Hunt. "Some work has been done to it over the last 30 years, and I'd say the structural damage is significant, but not critical, I don't think the building is at risk of falling down."

Hunt said there had been a long debate of whether the gazebo would stay in town after it had been used for the film. The town decided to keep it, but further problems came about. Hunt added that in the spring of 1988, nearly a dozen trees died on that lawn when the movie's film crew sprayed a fire-retardant foam on the maples to create the illusion of snow. Hunt said the matter had been dealt with and the movie company agreed to pay for those damages when they occurred.

As for the gazebo damages, Hunt said he notified the municipality's insurance company about the incident and believes that the Vermont League of Cities and Towns will contact Page's insurance carrier. He added that the structural damages and repairs needed will be assessed, but that full repairs may need to wait until the "weather breaks."

"This is an accident which was certainly not an act of God, and he (Page) should probably be liable," said Hunt.

"The damage was done to a couple of posts on the gazebo, maybe one or two broke, but it was mostly the decorative skirting that impacted. The upper part of structure is in contact, it's not leaning and is not in danger of falling over, but we will have it properly assessed," said Hunt.

In addition to the gazebo damage, Page also knocked down a stop sign. Hunt believes the state will replace the stop sign and post.

Hunt noted that a cat was riding with Page when he crashed into the gazebo.

"He had a cat and we were just trying to try keep it warm," said Dale West, a volunteer firefighter at Townshend Fire Department who brought the animal to the Windham County Humane Society.

Page's vehicle was towed from the scene by Scott Brooks Towing. Page was issued a citation to appear in the Vermont Superior Court, Windham Criminal Division for arraignment on February 9, 2016.

Vermont State Police, Brattleboro Station, along with members of the Townshend Volunteer Fire Department and an ambulance from Rescue Inc. responded to the accident.

– Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 275, or mshaw@reformer.com.


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