AUGUSTA — Officials are looking for answers after a 20-year-old granite mile marker toppled and broke over the weekend on the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

Area residents think the marker, which is close to the trail’s entrance by the Kennebec Valley YMCA, was damaged by vandals, but area police have received no recent reports of vandalism or suspicious activity on the trail.

Hallowell resident Paul Daiute, who was walking the trail with his dog on Tuesday, told the Kennebec Journal he thought someone forcibly removed and broke the marker.

“It just makes me angry, and I’m astounded at the effort it had to have taken to do this vandalism,” he said. “It’s just very annoying and senseless.”

Nona Thompson, of Hallowell, said she was heartbroken that anyone would “want to hurt this beautiful place that we get to love and enjoy on a daily basis.”

A person walks south on Tuesday near the broken one mile marker of the Kennebec River Rail Trail by the turnoff for the Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

The trail is maintained and operated by two branches of the Friends of the Kennebec River Rail Trail: the Board of Directors and the Board of Supervisors. Lesley Jones, board of directors treasurer and Augusta Public Works director, said the Board of Supervisors is responsible for trail repairs and its budget is comprised of contributions from the Friends, who fundraise and advocate for the trail, and municipal budget lines in Augusta, Hallowell, Farmingdale and Gardiner.

She said the budget is around $20,000, but can be supplemented by fundraising by the Friends.

Jones said the markers were installed 20 years ago, and the group is working with Hallowell’s Masciadri Monuments to assess next steps, which could be replacement or repair. Masciadri Monuments owner Tony Masciadri said granite can be easy to fix if the break is clean, but if the stone was splintered by the break, it could be a more complicated job.

Commenters on a Facebook post by Chris Cart, Board of Directors vice president, about the broken marker said it was seen toppled but unbroken on Saturday. Some thought it could have been damaged accidentally by a good Samaritan who tried to prop it up but couldn’t get it to stay, so it fell again. A few said soft soil during changing seasons could be the culprit.

Friends President Dan Albert said he believed it was vandalized because it was seen intact before it was broken.

“I’m making assumptions that it was vandalized,” he said. “Most of those markers were engineered to be stable and solid.”

Albert said he was not aware of any decisions being made or any cost estimates for the damage.

Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason and Augusta Police Staff Sgt. Christian Behr said neither department received complaints of vandalism from the trail over the weekend. Nason said vandalism is among the more common complaints coming from the trail.

Board of Supervisors member Leif Dahlin, who is also Director of Community Services in Augusta, said the board is looking to replace the mile markers in the future, but he did not know how it would affect plans for the toppled marker.

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