Neighbors around Waldo’s Tower Park have watched for years as cars pull onto the park’s baseball field, music blasting from some of the car stereos.
Often, the gatherings are part of a celebration at the nearby park shelter.
“We’ve had parks (and recreation) put up signs that say ‘no parking on the grass’ and they have stolen the signs and it’s blatant that they aren’t going to abide by this,” said neighbor Kurtis Marinez, president of the Waldo Tower Historic Society.
“We’ve taken photographs over the years and met with police in trying to get it resolved."
Residents have enlisted the help of John Murphy, who is the city liaison for the Armour Fields Home Association. Murphy’s son has played baseball on the field and he knew the area.
“Last year we were promised traffic-deterring devices at Tower Park,” Murphy said in an email recently to parks and city officials. “As a group we met with Forest Decker (Parks and Recreation superintendent) numerous times. We were ultimately told that bollards, trees, benches and decorative walls were to be employed.”
Parks officials confirm that after meeting with neighborhood leaders last fall, they did put together a plan that might include bollards, trees and shrubs.
The design, however, would decrease visibility at the park, Decker said, and the city has held off moving forward on the plan.
“Bollards are not off the table,” he said. “We are still considering and trying to find less disruptive alternatives.”
In early May, concerned residents met with parks officials to put a plan in place as the warmer weather drew near.
The solution they settled on is to use three security guards, who also patrol other city parks as needed, to address problems. Two guards work full time and one works weekends. The money to fund them is part of the city's security contract.
Decker said $150,000 would be spent this fiscal year for security expenses, including the guards. The manpower was in place before the city decided to deploy the guards to park shelters.
But over the busy Memorial Day weekend, Marinez said, the calls placed to the security service were ineffective.
“It’s hit and miss and sometimes no one responds or returns calls,” he said. “If this was at Loose Park or any other, they would have the police there in a flash.”
Police do have full authority to enforce park regulations and parking on the grass is prohibited, Decker said, but they also may have more territory to cover and more urgent calls to field.
The Parks and Recreation Department oversees more than 200 green spaces and has unique problems ranging from burglaries and vandalism to noise complaints.
“Every park is totally different,” Decker said.
At Tower Park, it’s the damage to turf and the disturbance to residents. Keeping cars off the greenery is another step that residents hope will bring the park closer to a more refined atmosphere.
The city recently began renovating the park’s white tower, which dates to 1920.
All the work is going as planned, said City Council member Scott Taylor. A new coat of paint can be seen starting from the top town. The goal is to have the renovation complete by year’s end, Taylor said.
“The restoration will have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods,” he said.