October 03, 2012 - Addison resident Bob Godkin, 78, devoted significant time, effort and money from his own pocket to create something nice in his community for others to use and enjoy.
Addison resident Bob Godkin surveys the damage done to the picnic table he “built from scratch” for a rest area he created along the Polly Ann Trail. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Unfortunately, some thoughtless vandal (or vandals) came along and destroyed it, leaving Godkin wondering if he'll ever build anything for public use again.
"At first, I said I'm not doing this again because they'll just wreck it," he said. "But now, well, I'll have to do some soul-searching and then decide. It's not something you just go out, buy and put on the trail. There was some hard work put into it."
On Tuesday, Sept. 25, Godkin was informed by a friend that the picnic table he "built from scratch" for the Polly Ann Trail had been deliberately smashed to pieces. The table is part of a quaint little rest area Godkin created where the trail intersects Hosner Rd., just north of Lakeville Rd. in Addison.
"99.9 percent of the people out here on the trail are good people, then one-tenth (of) a percent comes along and wrecks it for everybody," he said. "Now, (trail users) have no place to sit and have their lunch or a snack."
Trail users and others can see the damage for themselves.
"It's still there," Godkin said. "I haven't had the heart to go down and get it."
Judging by the footprints left on the tabletop and bench, it appears that someone repeatedly jumped up and down on it until it finally broke.
"At first, I was angry about someone wrecking it for no reason," said Godkin, who serves as a citizen representative on the trail's management council. "But then I became sad because this was put out there for the people on the trail to use."
"The table might be salvageable, but I don't know if I'm going to mess with it," he added.
Godkin didn't just purchase some picnic table kit from a big box hardware store and assemble it. He employed his considerable skills as a craftsman to create it.
"I built it over a couple weeks last winter in my shop," he said. "The time and materials were all donated. I even had a friend of mine who donated some of the money for materials."
The table cost about $200 to build.
Some of the wood used to build it actually came from white cedar trees along the trail by the Koenig Sand & Gravel mining operation in Oxford. The trees had to be removed, so Godkin obtained permission from the trail council to utilize seven or eight logs.
"I took them to a sawmill and had them sawed up into lumber," he said.
In addition to the table, he also used this cedar to construct a bench for the rest area last year.
"It's just something that I like to do," Godkin said. "I feel good about giving back to the trail. I'm on the Polly Ann Trail council and this was my contribution.
"I like to give back to the community. I've had a Lakeville address for 77 years. I've had a good life here. I've been treated good, got a nice home, a lot of friends and good neighbors, so I like to give a little bit back."
The bench and picnic table are just part of the rest area Godkin created. He also planted a couple small trees, spread some mulch and installed a trash can, which he empties on a regular basis.
"I take care of the area," he said. "I come down here and weed it every few weeks during the summer. I just keep it neat. I've seen a lot of people using it."
Godkin would like to see an increased police presence, perhaps even regular patrols, on the trail to curb these senseless acts of vandalism. "I feel that we as guardians of the trail need to address this vandalism and implement better ways to patrol the trail," he wrote in an e-mail to the trail council.
Godkin noted how the Paint Creek Trail has officers riding bicycles while patrolling it.
"I don't know if we could ever do something like that or if we could afford it," he said.
Depending on where the vandalism occurs along the trail, Godkin urged folks to contact the Oakland County Sheriff's Department or Oxford Village Police if they see anything or know anything.
When asked about the possibility of using average citizens to patrol it, Godkin said, "I suppose you could use volunteers.
"That sounds like a good idea, but I'm not sure whether that would work," he said. "It gets old pretty fast. As much as I like the trail, I wouldn't like to go down there two or three hours every night, or three or four times a week."
Godkin hopes that whoever destroyed the picnic table will "feel guilty" enough after reading this article to "come forward."
He believes it was "most likely" some kids or teens responsible for the destruction.
"Why are they like that? Why do they have to destroy things? Maybe society is changing. I don't know."
Godkin, who's a 1952 graduate of Oxford High School, noted when he was a kid, he and his friends would get into some "mischief" from time to time.
"But we never did anything like this," he said. "We never just went out and destroyed something."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.