David Yoder had always been fond of seeing people have a good time playing in the Yellow Breeches Creek behind his house about a mile downstream from Messiah.
“I enjoyed seeing these young people have a good time,” he recalled. “We’d hear them splashing around and I took pleasure in seeing mothers and fathers with their children.” Many of these people had particularly enjoyed coming to use the rope swing that was located at this section of the creek.
But after several ongoing problems of littering, injuries, and disregard for private property, Yoder had the longtime rope swing taken down just over a week ago.
“I am not specifically blaming college kids,” he emphasized. “They are just part of the group.”
The swing – which had been around even before Yoder moved into the house 20 years ago – had seen increased activity in the past five years due to more kayaks and flotation devices coming downstream, as well as locals taking notice of the location of the rope swing not far from Bishop Rd.
“My first thought was to take down the rope swing,” Yoder said. “But they were persistent, so I thought I’d let it go and see how it went.”
The first problem to arise was littering, which prompted Yoder to add a trash barrel to the area around the swing. Despite collecting “about 90%” of the trash, there was still more around – including alcohol.
“I had at least 1,000 beer cans collected last summer,” he recalled, a number that he knew because he took them in for recycling. He added that the problem with beer cans was a “constant issue” over the summer.
The rope swing had also become a source of at least three serious injuries. This had brought ambulances, the fire company, and local police into the crowded area of Yoder’s driveway in order to address the problems.
Some neighbors had also voiced disapproval of people showing up at unexpected times and parking their vehicles to go and use the swing. Parents would drop kids off along the road or in their driveways and many would also park in the lawns around the creek.
“One girl with a Mercedes-Benz convertible parked right in front of our garage,” Yoder added.
Despite adding “No Trespassing” signs to certain areas along the private property, people would still sneak along those areas to get down to the swing at the creek. All of the banks along the Yellow Breeches in this area and beyond are private property, with the exception of the township parks.
With the rope swing now down, Yoder says he intends to “maintain and police” a “No Trespassing” system of wires that he has added along the area of the bank where the swing used to be.
Yoder also maintained that Messiah students are not primary cause of the rope swing coming down, with many local high school and middle school students also a reason.
“This action is not at all primarily aimed at (Messiah students),” he said, adding that it would be manageable if the swing was just for college students but that such a rule would be too selective.
“It’s either there for everybody to use, or not at all.”
Because of the ongoing problems, no swing at all is now the new reality.