Mink Brook rules to be strictly enforced
The town of Hanover is taking steps to more strictly enforce town ordinances regarding the use of Mink Brook and the Connecticut river area. These ordinances prohibit the installation of rope swings, limit access to the area from dawn to dusk as well as ban alcohol, large gatherings and amplified sound.
Hanover town manager Julia Griffin said that while the ordinances have been in place for several years, the town has recently strengthened its enforcement efforts after several complaints regarding excessive noise, illegal parking and trash were voiced in the spring by area residents in emails to the town after Memorial day.
“The neighbors were saying that the place was covered with trash, Keystone cans and lots of used condoms,” she said.
In addition to an email sent to undergraduates by dean of the College Kathryn Lively asking that students respect town policies, several new preventative measures have been taken. The town has constructed a kiosk on Downey Street with clear rules posted for the appropriate usage of the Mink Brook area, according to Griffin. Additionally, the gate to the area will now be locked by Hanover police officers at dusk and reopened at dawn. Griffin said that area residents have been encouraged to call the police if they encounter disturbances.
Rope swings that were left in Mink Brook have been cut down, as well as any branches and trees that could support future rope swing installations, Griffin said.
Hanover police captain Mark Bodanza said that police will also be checking Mink Brook and its surrounding area more frequently during patrols. Town ordinance dictates a fine of up to $100 for using the area when it is closed, and another fine of up to $100 if alcohol in open containers is found, Bodanza said. He added that if a crime is being committed in the area, there may be additional penalties.
“We don’t want to see anybody maliciously cause damage to the property or be a nuisance to the community in that area,” Bodanza said. “I think that’s the main focus of deterrence and proper education of when people can use that area and when they cannot.”
Stricter enforcement of town ordinances also helps to mitigate the damage being done to the Mink Brook ecosystem as a result of excessive foot traffic in the area, according to Hanover planning and zoning department senior planner Vicki Smith.
“[The area] is loved to death. People in Hanover love outside hiking, walking and enjoying our natural resources,” Smith said. “But, you know, there’s always a downside to being loved to death. The point is trampled. There’s no vegetation there, and so that’s something we need to address.”
In addition to the environmental impact, Griffin said that using rope swings and swimming at night are not safe practices for the Mink Brook area. Eight years ago, a student participating in a Tuck School of Business summer program drowned in the area, according to Griffin.
“The reason we don’t have a lifeguard at any of our riverfront areas where people like to swim is that the town doesn’t want the liability of trying to control swimming in those locations by providing lifeguards,” she said.
Griffin said that she had hoped the College would open the swim docks in the spring to offer students another option to enjoy the riverfront aside from Mink Brook. However, she said that the College has stated it is not in a financial position to open the swim docks outside of the summer term.
She added that she encourages students on campus this summer to work with the College to find a way to accommodate nighttime swimming and rope swings.
“There may be an opportunity to do something on campus along the College portion of the river front that we just haven’t thought of yet,” Griffin said. “I would urge students to get creative about that with the College to see what might be possible.”