Monday, June 15, 2015

The Battle of Pearmain

Pearmain Road at the gas pipeline after the cleanup (click photo to enlarge)
Pearmain Road is one of the White Hill's more interesting streets, linking Birdseye Road to Saw Mill City Road.  Traveling west from Birdseye Road, Pearmain is a narrow, paved street lined with farmland and homes. But the pavement ends, and that's where the trouble begins.  A few hundred yards of easily-traveled dirt road leads to a Iroquois Gas Pipeline facility and a turn-around of sorts (see location on Google Maps). Past that point, the road is in such poor shape that it's become a challenge course for young people with 4WD trucks and a popular route for ATVs (note: the trucks are legal on this road, but the ATVs are not). 

People have been dumping and partying here for years. A video from 2006 was taken by the new conservation agent after receiving a complaint about a pile of tires where the gas pipeline crosses Pearmain Road. The location can be reached by hiking south from the Land Trust's Nicholdale Farm property off of Rt 110 (location of a Scout camp).

The area was then cleaned up, and Iroquois installed a heavy gate across Pearmain Road where the pavement ends. Sadly, the heavy chain locking the gate was cut, repeatedly. Everyone finally just gave up trying to keep it locked and the dumping continued.

The issue came to the forefront again in the fall of 2014 while the Trails Committee was building an official connector trail from the Land Trust's Scout camp out to Pearmain Road. The new trailhead came out onto Pearmain Road only a few feet from piles of trash. Committee members took apart an old picnic table that had been dumped and used the lumber for a trail bridge. Most concerning were the campfire remains found directly over the gas pipeline. Kids were playing with fire right on top of a huge natural gas line!  This lent a sense of urgency to the issue.

A real mess
After conferring with various city departments, the Conservation Agent researched better ways to lock the existing gate and installed security cameras. Some chains appear to be much stronger than others.   Justino's Landscaping then rose to the challenge, hauling out a mountain of trash. The Police Department reviewed the area and now makes a point to check the gate routinely: If the gate is suddenly found open on a Saturday night, there is probably a party going on.  

Garbage removed, but landscaping debris is unsightly. 
After the trash was hauled out, there was still a lot of unsightly landscaping debris that had been dumped, including many large, rotting logs.  The Police noted that the logs were an invitation for kids who wanted to start a fire, and recommended the wood be removed. Highways & Bridges then sent in a crew to remove the landscaping debris, finishing up by spreading woodchips. 

Much better!
The road is still technically open to registered vehicles. Although they can't pass through the gate, it's legal to drive in from Saw Mill City Road if you have a truck capable of handling the rough road. The point of the gate was to stop people coming in the easy way with loads of debris they want to dump as well as teenagers driving in by car to attend a party. The gate seems to be accomplishing that so far.

In conclusion, it has taken the efforts of a lot of people to get this dumpsite cleaned up, and to keep it secure from future dumping, but where there is a will, there is a way. Many thanks to the following:

Iroquois Gas Company
Justino's Landscaping
Shelton Highways & Bridges
Shelton Police Department

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