There is no benefit to a bridge at Mine Falls

I take issue with The Telegraph’s recent editorial stating the proposed pedestrian bridge would be good for Mine Falls Park.

I am a long-time member of the Mine Falls Park Advisory Committee and we take our responsibility as stewards of the park very seriously. We can see no benefit to the park from this bridge and have voted to not support it.

The proposed bridge would directly connect the city’s highest crime rate area with the park’s most environmentally sensitive habitat, the so-called "Cove" area, home to numerous wildlife such as migratory waterfowl, songbirds, beaver, fox and the state-protected Blandings turtle.

There is a long history of illegal activities taking place here under the cover of darkness and dense vegetation. These activities include consumption of alcoholic beverages, overnight and long-term camping without sanitation facilities, littering and use of the park after posted hours.

It is a fact that this area of the canal accumulates more trash than any other section. It is not only coffee cups and bottles, but also furniture, tires, car parts, bikes and bags of household trash despite a 6-foot high chain-link fence along the edge.

I also take issue with the assumption that there will be little cost to the taxpayers. The grant requires a 20 percent contribution or $100,000 from city funds. This is just the beginning of the costs.

What have not been included or even studied are the long-term costs and impacts. These include additional police presence, additional lighting, bridge maintenance and clean-up. There is also the environmental cost of loss of habitat in the Cove area caused by additional visitors during and after regular park hours.

There are already three other entrances to the park within a half-mile of the proposed bridge – another one is not needed. Let’s get control of the serious issues in this neighborhood before we provide direct access to the park that so many people love and appreciate.

Richard Gillespie