I finally had time to take a stroll along the new boardwalk connecting Silver Sands State Park and Walnut Beach on Sunday.
My heart jumped with joy at the sight of the natural beauty: Charles Island, low tide, seagulls cracking open shellfish for lunch, and even a baby deer tiptoeing in the marsh.
But suddenly my heart sank into a slum of slurs.
"P-City" is a tag I've seen before. It appears to be a reference to drugs that first came to light in December when several homes and businesses were marred by graffiti in the Silver Sands section of Milford.
Another note scrawled across the wooden slats announced that a girl in town is for sale for a mere $20. Her name was spelled out, but then spray-painted over. How considerate.
A third used an offensive homophobic slang word, but misspelled it. Ignorant and illiterate. Now, come on.
I was peeved. How could such scoundrels have been allowed to deface such a beautiful place that taxpayers spent $2.4 million to build? It opened to much fanfare just a few months ago.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one who is offended.
I overheard another visitor declare, "They're destroying our boardwalk already."
And a second, who spotted the graffiti about the girl who's for sale for two 10-dollar bills, told a walking companion, "Oh you missed it. Don't worry, you'll see it when we come back."
No. You shouldn't have to see it the first time, let alone view it a second. The only things you should be looking at are the seagulls, the seashells and the sea grass -- anything to keep your mind off the pressures of everyday life.
The markings on the boardwalk are quality-of-life crimes that one mayor in a city south of us once cracked down on -- prompting the crime rate to plummet in a much larger metropolis. New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani squeezed out the squeegee men and other scoundrels and managed to make the Big Apple a safer place to work and live.
Some New Yorkers thought he was nuts at the time. But in the end, there seemed to be a method to his madness.
Giuliani apparently believed that allowing petty criminals to get away with stuff like grubbing from the public or tagging subway cars signaled, "No one is watching," which made ruffians, robbers, and rapists feel free to run roughshod over the laws of the land.
With that premise, the graffiti along Milford's shoreline needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible (i.e. yesterday) before something far worse occurs, like the double stabbing last year at Walnut Beach. We must not let the markings sit there another second -- and set the tone for our great shoreline.
Mayor James Richetelli shares the same sentiments.
"I'm aware of the appearance of graffiti on our boardwalk and I'm very disturbed by this," he said in an email. "It simply is unacceptable for such a community asset to be vandalized this way.
"Our Department of Public Works will be removing the graffiti and our Police Department will continue efforts to identify those responsible. Our shoreline is one of our city's treasures, and we must continue providing safe, healthy and unspoiled ways for our citizens to enjoy it."
A spokesman for the Milford Police Department told Milford Patch both the city and the state patrol the area because Silver Sands State Park is state property and Walnut Beach is city property. Officer Jeffrey Nielsen noted a bridge connects the two areas along the boardwalk.
How often are city police down there? Nielsen says it depends on the number of calls police are busy with in the rest of town on any given day.
But he encourages anyone who sees anything strange by the boardwalk -- including vandalism -- to call police at (203) 878-6551.
An attempt to reach the state was unsuccessful.
Please allow me to offer a few suggestions:
-- How about having graduates of the Citizens Police Academy patrol the boardwalk in the daytime, sporting official police caps and coats, so they can serve as a deterrent and a direct link to the Police Department?
-- How about putting up surveillance cameras, even if they're dummies, to deter crime?
-- How about nabbing the boob who keeps writing "P-City" all over "M-City," as in My City or Milford City? How about giving him community service -- like power-washing the boardwalk?
-- And, finally, how about gathering up all the graffiti artists and getting them involved in something worthwhile, like the art project the "Murals of Milford?"
Just a few ideas, folks. Just a few ideas -- to reclaim the boardwalk as our own. After all, we did pay for it.