It took grant money and many clubs and individuals in the Gloversville school community to build the district’s new nature trail, but it apparently took only one man looking to make a few bucks from scrap metal to wreck it.
Middle School science teacher Jessie George, co-adviser to the school’s Environmental Club, said she was stunned last Wednesday evening to encounter a man on the school property loading scrap metal into a pickup truck.
She said she was livid when she discovered he had broken up and dismantled the pieces of antique farming equipment positioned on the trail as part of the 50 teaching stations required in the grant.
After discovering the man in the act of removing the equipment, George said, she confronted him and asked him who he was and what he was doing. George said the man told her that years ago he paid the former owner of the farm property for the right to salvage metal.
George said she then left the area and reported the incident to police, who are investigating. She declined to identify the man, but she said she knows who he is, and so do the police.
The state trooper handling the investigation was not available Monday afternoon.
The property was owned by a real estate investment company for at least a decade before the school district bought it in 2003.
Citing all the clubs, individuals and businesses that helped build the trail, George said it was truly a community project. “And then this guy goes up and helps himself,” she said.
“I was so livid … we worked so hard,” said George. The school district has the property clearly posted, she said.
A barn and numerous pieces of old farming equipment were part of the old farm property and are incorporated into the trail, which also features owl nesting boxes, birdhouses, a bat house, cedar posts and picnic tables made as part of an Eagle Court project.
Linda Smyth’s art class is planning to paint a mural on the inside wall of the barn, and George said the silo is being repaired to serve as a mini-classroom in which students will perform math equations for such factors as circumference and volume.
The project was made possible with the help of a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse and a $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart.
George said it was disheartening to find the man had destroyed the vintage pieces of farm equipment, including a hay baler, a horse-drawn harrow and some manure spreaders.
George said the man disclosed it was not his first salvage run to the trail.
The wooden wheels on one of the units were smashed, she said. She said the man admitted using a sledge hammer to break up the equipment.
As the police investigate the case, George said, the school community must try to literally pick up the pieces and continue the project.
George would be grateful to anyone willing to donate some vintage farm equipment. She said she can be contacted at the middle school.
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Categories: Schenectady County