Vandalized boardwalk could open Wednesday

Posted Sept. 07, 2010, at 1:25 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The popular Orono Bog Boardwalk remained closed Tuesday, two days after vandals caused thousands of dollars in damage.

Volunteers spent Monday and Tuesday fixing broken wood planks, signs and benches as Bangor police continued to look for clues as to who might be responsible.

The boardwalk, located within the Bangor City Forest, is a well-worn spot for walkers and wildlife watchers. The raised wooden pathway takes people on a 1-mile trek through the fertile Orono Bog, offering glimpses of various flora and fauna without disrupting the bog’s surface.

Jim Bird, director of the boardwalk, said most repairs had been made by early Tuesday afternoon and the attraction could reopen by Wednesday.

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More than 20 benches and more than 20 deck boards were vandalized, causing an estimated $3,000 in damage, according to Bird. A small cabin near the entrance to the boardwalk also was damaged, as was the lock on the gate.

“We’ve had a lot of folks out helping and even more people calling to offer their help. The community outpouring has been great,” he said.

Carol Colson, a senior vice president with Bangor Savings Bank, said late Tuesday that the bank has offered to pay for the damage and round up additional volunteers if necessary.

Everyone who has commented has called the act of vandalism senseless.

Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said the damage, which occurred sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning, is still under investigation. Officers collected evidence at the scene but are still encouraging anyone with information to call 947-7384.

The Orono bog was designated as a registered national landmark in 1974. A plaque at the entrance to the boardwalk states: “This site possesses exceptional value as an illustration of the nation’s natural heritage and contributes to a better understanding of man’s environment.”

The boardwalk was built with the help of about $175,000 in donations, including a $50,000 anonymous matching grant, and the work of dozens of volunteers. It opened in 2003 and has been attracting visitors since then. Last year, an estimated 30,000 people took advantage of the attraction, Bird said.

Bird also said the boardwalk and its partner, the Orono Land Trust, have an endowment of more than $150,000 for maintenance.

After the boardwalk reopens, Bird said, he and others involved in the day-to-day operation of the trail will talk about whether increased security measures need to be implemented.

Those interested in donating money to the repair effort or in volunteering to help fix the boardwalk may call Jim Bird at 866-2578.

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