The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 6, 2013

Another wrong-way truck damages Conneaut park

GPS gives wrong direction, leads driver astray

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — For the second time in little more than two months, a tractor-trailer truck that made a wrong turn became mired in mud inside Conneaut’s Malek Park, officials said.

The incident happened shortly after noon on Thursday, said Conneaut Police Chief Charles Burlingham. The truck was traveling north on Parrish Road, bound for an industry on Chamberlain Boulevard, when the driver’s satellite navigation device advised her to make a left hand turn — which took the big rig into the park, he said.

The truck became stuck in sloppy soil opposite a ball field parking lot, Burlingham said. A wrecker pulled the truck free around 1:30 p.m., he said.

The driver is from the Cleveland area, while the truck is owned by an Illinois company, Burlingham said. Some sizable ruts were created by the accident, he said.

In late January, the wheels on a wayward rig did some damage to the park. In that case, the driver — also led astray by a GPS — didn’t notice his error until the truck had nearly reached the exercise trail at the far west end of the sprawling park. The city recently received payment of $1,560 from the responsible trucking company to cover damages in that instance, officials have said.

Malek Park is home to Conneaut’s arboretum, which is maintained by the city’s Tree Commission. Rod Raker, the commission’s chairman, said other big trucks have inadvertently entered the park but avoided getting stuck.

“It’s an on-going problem,” he said Friday.

Even though other rigs found their own way out of the park, they still left behind tracks, especially in the area of a circular driveway near a playground, Raker said. “They’ve managed to rut up the area,” he said.

Aside from contacting the satellite navigation companies and pointing out the error in their instructions, Raker said there is little the city can do right now to keep trucks on the proper path. Two signs are already in place advising visitors they are entering a park, he said.

Raker said he and City Manager Tim Eggleston are discussing more signage to keep big rigs from entering the park. “I’m not really sure what the answer is,” he said.

Other intruders manage to inflict a fair amount of damage to vegetation in the park, Raker said. All-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles — even cross-country skiers — have crushed small plants hidden under snow, he said.