Prestonsburg Passage Trail trouble leads to investigation

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:08 PM EDT
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - With summer in full swing, Prestonsburg’s Passage trail is seeing its fair share of visitors. But, according to city leaders, not all of those visitors are being fair to the space.

Prestonsburg mayor Les Stapleton shared a post Sunday, saying the trail was vandalized. Photos showed one of the metal gates installed to keep large vehicles out had been tampered with.

“It’s supposed to be fun for everybody and they have yellow gates up every so often and that does slow it down but people have always found a way around them,” said local man Steven Harris, who uses the trail every day.

The Facebook post also included a photo with an ATV sitting near the gate that was damaged.

“This had to be intentional. We’re not even sure how how they did the damage,” said Stapleton. “Would have thought a hammer, initially, but now I think not. I don’t know if they were trying to steal it for metal or whatever, but we’re taking actions.”

Stapleton said the city has made it abundantly clear that ATVs are not allowed on the trail, as declared by the grant used to pay for its completion.

With an investigation underway pointing to the possible suspects involved with the unauthorized ATV use and vandalism, Stapleton said he hopes the message will remain clear to anyone else who intends to break the rules.

“What’s worse is it’s people who have worked for the city sometimes who do these things,” he said. “That’s exactly what it is, is trespassing. It’s a criminal act on motorized vehicles.”

He said it is not about punishing anyone, but about keeping the space open and free of vehicles that could potentially harm the wildlife and those who are hoping to enjoy it.

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