MOUNT WASHINGTON — After the state closed Bash Bish Falls State Park on Saturday, vandals took it out on parking areas, trashing barricades, shredding the ribbons attaching them and strewing the area with beer bottles.
"I understand people are frustrated, but destruction of public property is not good," said Brian Tobin, chairman of the town Select Board and police chief. "You've got a handful of people on social media defending it, people saying the lockdown is ridiculous. Nobody's looking to create a bigger problem than already exists."
David Procopio, spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, said troopers were aware of one incident on Sunday in which a barrier was removed from a trailhead, and that a trooper was unable to find the culprits.
Warmer temperatures after a month of stay-at-home orders in the region had people seeking fresh air and solace outdoors over the weekend.
On Saturday, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation closed the park until further notice, given the state-of-emergency and its focus on social distancing during the pandemic.
Tobin said that narrow trails and inability to monitor social distancing were part of the reason the state decided to close Bash Bish, which has the highest waterfall in Massachusetts. The park spans into New York State.
Vandals also targeted the parking area across the state border, tossing the barriers into the water, said Tobin, who had received a call on Sunday morning reporting all the damage.
Tobin said that over the weekend, he rerouted people who arrived at Bash Bish to other nearby DCR parks, Mount Everett State Reservation and Guilder Pond.
"There was a family in a car with dogs, and they were so disappointed," he said. "And they were driving from Schenectady. Lots of people came back by and said `That was spectacular, thank you.'"
He urges patience, and said the lockdown is set to be lifted soon.
"May 18 is only two weeks away."
Heather Bellow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.