Council works to keep trespassers off future park’s property
Eventually Dogwood Acres will be open to all citizens who want to visit, but Wesley Chapel council members want to make sure people stay off the land in the meantime.
The village recently closed on the final 6 acres of a total of 22.6 acres that will soon be the village’s first municipal park. At a Tuesday, Jan. 17 meeting, village council discussed the issue of trespassing and what can be done to keep individuals off the property.
Over the course of time, the village has had some problems with people frequently coming onto the property to fish in the pond. But the village wants no liability should an accident occur on the land.
“We just can’t say, ‘Well, they go there every weekend’ or ‘they live in the neighborhood behind.’ We’re liable, and until the park opens, there needs to be nobody out there,” Mayor Pro Tem Kim Ormiston said.
To cut down on people deliberately setting foot on the property or accidentally wandering onto the land, the council plans to display more “no trespassing” signs around the perimeter of the property, facing the neighborhood and around the pond.
Because construction of the park has not yet begun, there are safety concerns that haven’t been resolved. Recently, the water level of the pond has been considerably rising and falling, due to a large pipe sticking out of the water and damage left by beavers that were cleared off the property last summer. In addition to the pond problem, a pit at least 5 feet deep, believed to be an old, abandoned trap, was discovered on the property.
Council member Becky Plyler was concerned about the safety of the property.
“That raises a question: should somebody walk all that land?” Plyler asked the council. “Should somebody go over to that land and make sure there’s nothing else there?”
Other council members felt secure with leaving the land as is until construction begins. “We can put up signs, and if you get injured, you were trespassing,” planning/zoning administrator Joshua Langen said. “It’s a misdemeanor to trespass.”