Vandals at trail head: ‘They should be locked up’


By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — City of Rockingham officials aren’t banking on outdoor recreation as the savior to the local economy, but they’re no doubt hedging hikers, birdwatchers, paddlers and more all have a role to play in its success.

Is it too much to ask that people respect that? At least one person thinks so.

Kevin Spradlin |

Kevin Spradlin |

The driver of a silver or gray Nissan Altima was seen tearing into the open fields around the Steele Street trail head, the heavily used access point to the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail and Greenway. The Rockingham Police Department said the incident, in which the vehicle cut through the field adjacent to the trail head and community garden to gouge the potential open-space play area with inches-deep ruts, caused an estimated $1,500 in damages.

There are two primary areas of damage, situated to the south and west of the community garden. The first area measures approximately 50 feet by 49 feet while the second area is roughly 80 feet by 150 feet. City police said this isn’t the first time a vandal has struck the trail head but it is the most damage caused in a single instance.

There is a $500 reward for a tip leading to the arrest of the person responsible. Tips can be called in to the Rockingham Police Department at 910-895-2468 or anonymously to Richmond County Crime Stoppers at 910-997-5454.

Visitors to the trail head early Wednesday afternoon were less than pleased.

“It’s not right,” said Rockingham resident Mary Cummings, who was taking her granddaughter, 1-year-old Zoey Elizabeth Wright, for a walk with her dad along the trail. The first stop — the wooden footbridge that spans the creek. The rush of the water is something to hear no matter one’s age.

“They should be locked up,” Cummings said of the person responsible. “This is a place where people should come and enjoy themselves.”

Kevin Spradlin |

Kevin Spradlin |

There are cameras at the location, but none were pointed towards the area in which the damage was done. Cummings suggested installing playground equipment to avoid a place for motorists to spin tires. She also said perhaps city officials should consider expanding the wooden fence to block off potential motor vehicle access.

Dan Hammann, who lives north of Roberdel, brought his two grandsons — Riley, 8, and Sawyer, 5 — to the trail head to burn off some post-school energy. He wasn’t happy when he learned of the reported vandalism.

“I think it’s disrespectful,” Hammann said. “This is for all the community to enjoy.”

Hammann said he and the boys are “down here all the time” walking and kayaking.




Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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