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Vandals kicked out the barrier preventing visitors from reaching the second floor and roof of the Grass Island Shack. (Photo courtesy of John Markowski )
The “Save the Shack” project wrapped up back in November 2016. (Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier. | Buy This Photo)
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The iconic Grass Island Shack is still in need of some salvation. Just months after Eagle Scout candidate John Markowski wrapped up his construction project “Save the Shack,” vandals damaged the newly renovated structure, leaving Markowski and town officials to conduct repairs and formulate a plan to protect the structure.
Markowski established “Save the Shack” as his Eagle Scout project back in 2015. In September 2016, Markowski and a crew of nearly 40 volunteers and professional contractors began work on the shack. The old deck and roof were replaced, the center structure was straightened and reinforced, and a new coat of paint was applied. The project officially wrapped up on Nov. 23, 2016.
On Jan. 26, Markowski went out to the shack to see how the structure had weathered the recent storm and was met with an unfortunate sight. Vandals had kicked out the wood designed to keep visitors from accessing the second level and roof of the building.
“Part of the project was for safety reasons, because people were getting on the roof and whatnot,” he said. “Someone went out there, saw it was closed off, wasn’t too happy, and wanted to get up there, which is really unfortunate considering all the time and money that has been invested in restoring the shack.”
The damage will have to be repaired. Through his Eagle Scout project, Markowski fundraised close to $28,000, $18,000 of which was used for the original renovation and the rest saved for future maintenance. Markowski just didn’t think maintenance would be needed so soon.
“It will definitely need to get fixed quickly since it is a safety issue, but it will definitely need to be fixed for the dedication ceremony that I have been planning for the spring,” he said.
Markowski reported the damage to the Guilford Police Department, the First Selectman’s Office, Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard, and Facilities Director Steve Neydorff. The police are currently compiling a report on the incident and Markowski said he is working on ways to protect the shack in the future.
“Some ideas people have thrown out are posting signs that say park is open from dusk to dawn and if you are there after you are trespassing and possibly security cameras,” he said, noting that police already “are down in the marina [area] a lot and hopefully they will keep an eye on it.”
The town currently owns the little red shack. The current structure, once privately owned, was erected in 1930, after a fire burned down a circa-1900 summer cottage on the grounds. In the 1950s, it was pushed up the beach to higher ground to avoid rising waters. In 1963, the shack and its perimeter of land were acquired by Guilford.
After being notified of the damage, Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard went out to the shack.
Markowski “did a phenomenal job building that and the decking is just gorgeous…It is just a shame,” Maynard said. “He and his troop put so much time and effort into that thing and did such a great job and to have somebody vandalize it is just intolerable, really.”
Maynard said he looked at the structure damage along with the facilities director and they are coming up with a few ways to possibly help repair the damage. As to protecting the shack in the future, Maynard said that might be a bit tricky.
“It is very remote and it is difficult,” he said. “We are going to try and explore some ideas with him and others to see what we could do.”
The damage to the shack is only visible from the inside, but Maynard said he is still very disappointed this happened.
“That is iconic Guilford and to have it damaged maybe makes people open their eyes a little more,” Maynard said. “It is just very frustrating. A young person had a great idea and did a tremendous job on this project and somebody had to go and damage it.”
For more information on the “Save the Shack” project, visit www.savetheshackguilford.com.
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