Wildcat Falls closed

COURTESY

An online petition with nearly 350 signatures on change.org http://change.org/ has been introduced to Merrimack town officials urging the preservation of the Wildcat Falls conservation area, which has been inundated with visitors and trash; the site is now closed to the public while town councilors decide how to solve the problem. 

The Wildcat Falls conservation area has been closed indefinitely after Merrimack neighbors pleaded with town officials to fix what has become a hazardous situation.

“Things have gotten very dangerous in my neighborhood,” said Brenna Hansen of Currier Road.

The problem is more than just an annoyance, according to Hansen, who said people park their vehicles on both sides of the street along Currier Road before heading to Wildcat Falls, speed in the neighborhood, leave trash in lawns and even urinate in public.

“It is just really frustrating at this point,” she said.

Last week, the Merrimack Town Council supported a recommendation from the conservation commission to temporarily close Wildcat Falls, which has become a popular summer destination spot for both local and out-of-state residents.

Between March 1 and June 14, there were nearly 100 calls from Currier Road neighbors reporting complaints to the Merrimack Police Department, according to Amy Simoneau, who lives near Wildcat Falls.

Some of the complaints include illegal parking, sexual activity, road rage, drug use, harassment, vandalism, noise disturbances and more, she said.

“Our neighborhood needs your help,” Simoneau pleaded with town councilors.

Town officials agreed to temporarily close Wildcat Falls, meaning violators may be charged with criminal trespassing or issued fines.

The main entrance to the 80-acre conservation area on Currier Road will be barricaded, and a police detail will be stationed at the site for the next couple of weekends to enforce the closure.

Signs will also be posted throughout the site to inform residents that Wildcat Falls is currently closed.

“There are a lot of ways to access that property,” acknowledged Brian Levesque, deputy police chief. Levesque said the local police department wants to help, but he did express enforcement concerns.

“We have to prioritize our calls right now … our calls for service have increased a lot,” he said.

Town Councilor Nancy Harrington said now is the time to stop the momentum of problems currently facing the Currier Road neighborhood.

However, she said the community must be realistic.

“High school kids have been sneaking in there and jumping off those boulders for longer than I have lived,” said Harrington.

There will be complaints once the facility is closed, she said, stressing the main objective is to prohibit parking and make it inconvenient for vehicles to have access to the site, which should help create a safer environment for residents in the neighborhood.

“The disrespect is just mind-boggling,” Finlay Rothhaus, town councilor, said of the trash and empty beer cans at the site. He does believe that enforcement can happen at Wildcat Falls, including the potential use of police bike patrols.