To the Editor:

The Shelton Trails Committee and Conservation Commission very much appreciate the cooperative effort between the city Public Works and town volunteers. We have known about the existence of the large number of tires in the Beach Tree Hills Road open space for several years. It seems that around the year 2000, an energetic group of dads and high school boys brought those tires to the open space along with plywood, corner posts, ropes and canvas to create a very impressive wrestling rink.

From a 2006 aerial photo of the area, it is easy to see the white square of the rink. Neighbors remember the enthusiasm of the competitors from that era. But the boys grew up and moved on to college or vocations. By the 2013 aerial photo, the rink was hardly visible, significantly overgrown by bushes and vines. In the summer of 2014 when Luke Clair proposed building a trail from Beech Tree Hill Road to the Little Pond as his Eagle Scout Service Project, the Trails Committee became aware of the rink amid the brambles and vines that engulfed it. In 2018, a volunteer went to disassemble the wrestling rink, removing the corner posts, ropes and plywood base, only to discover the massive number of tires that supported the structure. He removed the wood but left the tires for another project.

While we were aware of the tires, they posed no immediate issue with any trail and we have limited volunteer help to maintain nearly 30 miles of trails. But like almost everything in 2020, things come up to change priorities. Teresa Gallagher, Shelton’s natural resource officer, developed the Out and About Challenge, which included the Little Pond Trail from Beech Tree Hill Road to the Little Pond. As several of us cleared the trail to the pond, it became clear that this horde of tires needed to be removed. Not only were they a breeding ground for mosquitoes, rodents and snakes, but if someone showed up with a can of gasoline and a match, the black plume of smoke would have been visible from the International Space Station.

Ideally, we would develop a plan to remove the tires in late fall or early spring after bug and poison ivy season. The easiest route to remove the tires was across a homeowner’s yard on Pine Tree Hill Road, who gave us permission to do so. However, he planned to sell his home soon, so we chose to move quickly.

Our committee member Mark Vollaro contacted Nancy McMonagle of Public Works to request the city provide a dumpster. Not only did she act quickly to arrange for a large dumpster to be on site for our Saturday work party, but she, her husband and son loaded the tires into the dumpster. Twenty-some volunteers used a variety of motorized assistance and manual labor to transport the tires from the large pile in the woods to the dumpster. Due to the nearly 200 tires to be recycled, the city had to make an appointment with the Milford tire recycling facility before they could be delivered. Project now complete.

Bill Dyer

Shelton Trails Committee