An incursion by children into the Hellwinkel barn near Martin Slough Nature Trail has prompted the Town of Gardnerville to ask residents to steer clear of the property’s outbuildings.
The barn dates back to the 1920s, and has been cleaned up, but isn’t safe for public use, yet. There are also other outbuildings on the property.
“We are having some issues with kids playing in the old wood barn near the Martin Slough Nature Trail, south of Gilman Avenue, and someone cut the chain on the metal barn there as well,” said Gardnerville Town Manager Tom Dallaire. “Fortunately nothing was stolen, but the chain was cut. A few weeks ago, town staff heard rumors of a group of kids planning on lighting off fireworks inside the barn.”
The barn was purchased by the town along with 8 acres of the historic Hellwinkel barn in December 2011.
It’s posted with no trespassing signs and the sheriff’s office has been notified to keep an eye on it.
“It would be a shame to lose the barn to such recklessness and even more terrible if unsupervised children were hurt in the process,” Dallaire said. “The wood barn is a piece of cherished history from a long-time Gardnerville family who built it in the 1920s. Used for years to raise and house milking cows, horses, pigs, and sheep, it’s a piece of Gardnerville history and a rare style of wood barn for the Carson Valley.”
Dallaire said the barn was on the Historical Society’s Barn Tour in 2012.
“Last summer we had an Eagle Scout project clean up the inside and around the outside of the old wood barn,” Dallaire said. “The scouts removed all the old hay on the ground and the upper storage area, then installed DG material on the ground to level out the floor around the old wooden planks.”
He said there’s still work to be done to make the barn safe for the public.
“We are working on the trail and flood plain improvements around the barns now — once those are completed we can work on improving the barns themselves,” he said. “We have plans and will be submitting for permits to perform the construction when the irrigation season is over this year (before December), then we can fence off this parcel the barns are located on. In the meantime we want to keep the kids from causing more damage or, worst case, burning the barn down and causing injury to themselves or neighboring properties.”
He said the town’s goal is to eventually use the barn for Gardnerville events.
“The barns are not open for public use, or as a play area or fort for local kids,” Dallaire said. “We are asking that everyone stay out of the barns.”
Anyone who notices activity near the barn is asked to call the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.