Big Brother is coming to the Morristown Green.
Blame it on vandals.
Surveillance cameras will be installed this autumn, said Ron Ayres, one of the trustees who oversees the historic two-acre park where George Washington once trod.
“The board of trustees is working on the installation of cameras to thwart and help apprehend those responsible for vandalism to Morristown Green property,” Ron said.
People have dumped things into the Green’s fountain five times since May, forcing costly draining, power-washing, and refilling of the fountain to prevent damage to its pump.
“It’s a real waste of time, money and effort,” he said.
Used motor oil was the first pollutant. The Morristown Fire Department had to help remove it. The other incidents –including one during the overnight on this past Sunday–involved a bubble bath or dish detergent, said Ron.
All but one of these acts of vandalism occurred after dark, when the fountain was shut off. Ron has discovered the contaminants each morning before the pump was switched back on.
Luckily, he also noticed bubbles during the lone daytime incident, on a rainy day in May, and shut down the fountain before the pump sustained damage.
THIS IS PERSONAL
For Ron, this is personal. He maintains the fountain on behalf of his uncle, Dick Descovick, a retired banker who in 2001 donated the fountain and its statute depicting a Revolutionary War militiaman leaving his family.
Dick’s family foundation pays for the fountain’s maintenance, about $2,000 a year, Ron said. Vandalism drives up that cost.
DID YOU KNOW…
The Presbyterian Church deeded the Green to the town in 1868
George Washington lived on the edge of the Green, in Arnold’s Tavern, in winter, 1777
The Green has seen celebrations, concerts, protests…and executions
Its last public hanging, of murderer Antoine LeBlanc, drew thousands in 1833
An Internet link for security cameras is being established, he said.
Such measures are becoming necessary, he said, because of increasingly heavy usage of a park that predates the Revolution.
As nightlife has proliferated over the last few years, he said, so has the number of “crazy people.” The other day he had to stop two kids from stringing a tight rope between trees on the Green.
“It’s only a matter of time before something gets seriously damaged or someone gets hurt there,” Ron said.
Ron Ayres activates the fountain on the Green for the 2012 season: