Jaycee Park activity concerns neighbors

Friday, August 3, 2018
Main entrance to Greencastle’s remote Jaycee Park doesn’t secure the property at the road’s edge.
Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

Residing right across the road from Jaycee Park in rural Greencastle, James and Teresa Childers have seen more than their share of nefarious activity in the six months they’ve owned their home.

Headlights streaming into their living room at all hours of the night. Discarded condoms and used syringes disgustingly strewn about. Break-ins of their vehicles and outbuildings.

But forget all that. Recently it got downright dangerous, the Childers couple told the Greencastle Board of Park Commissioners Thursday night.

Last week after hearing three gunshots coming from the direction of the park, James Childers -- a Vietnam veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder -- jumped on his lawnmower just as a bullet zinged about six inches over his head, he told the Park Board.

Childers said he heard the bullet hit a tree in his yard but has been unable to find where it actually lodged.

“It’s very frustrating,” Teresa Childers said. “We live in a very nice neighborhood. The park should be a benefit, not a detriment.”

But by virtue of the park’s remote location, it has incurred its share of unwanted nocturnal activity in the past, park officials admitted.

“When I’m shot at,” Childers warned, “I’m sorry but I’m going to open up a can of you-know-what on them.”

Park Board President Tim Trigg responded, “That’s something we never want to see happen.”

Increased police drive-through patrols by both Greencastle City Police and Putnam County Sheriff’s Department deputies will be asked, Park Director Rod Weinschenk said, echoing what has been done in the past when the situation has reared its ugly head at the park off Airport Road.

“We can shut the park down,” Weinschenk suggested, “but that would mean we’re penalizing everyone for the actions of a few.”

Childers noted that the culprits in the latest incident were seen fleeing the area in a white pickup with six teenagers inside.

“These kids are really, really bad,” he noted, suggesting the Park Board could get other neighbors to corroborate his story if necessary.

The couple also reported finding dead geese recently at Jaycee Park that had obviously been shot and left to die.

Teresa Childers assured the board they would like to see the park be “a nice place for people to go fishing” and families to enjoy rather than worrying about what the latest misadventure will be.

Even though the interior gates are closed, one car will pull in and sit with its headlights shining across the road, and within minutes “five more will pull in around it,” Childers said, suggesting the park needs to be secured closer to the road “or it’s never going to stop.”

Nobody is even supposed to be in the park between 11 p.m. and sun-up, Weinschenk reminded.

Closing off the parking lot area, which adjoins the driveway (former airport entrance) to the old hangars at the back side of the Putnam County Airport, after hours would be a benefit. However, installing a fence there to keep people from driving into Jaycee Park would still allow them to pull into the adjoining area owned by the airport.

Electronic surveillance really hasn’t worked, it was noted, because every time cameras have been put up to monitor activity, they have been stolen.

Board member Cathy Merrell also suggested putting up neighborhood watch signs, like those put up in the old Miller School area when nocturnal activity festered there in the time between the building being vacant and then purchased and remodeled into apartments.

“We had some of the same issues,” she said, suggesting the signage and neighbors’ attention to the issue helped curb the problem.

“Our goal,” Weinschenk said, “is to make it a more connected and useful park with more programming.”

Doing that and bringing electrical service to the shelterhouse, he reasoned, could help security by providing more lighting for the park and dissuading some of the nefarious activity that has been reported.

“We truly believe that little park is a jewel that too many people don’t even know about,” President Trigg said.

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  • Haha. Put up watch signs. Hate to close it off? Would you rather have someone hurt? But hopefully the signs will ward off danger. When you see someone over there call the police.

    -- Posted by dirtypolitics on Sat, Aug 4, 2018, at 3:48 PM
  • This has been an on going problem for years that has been somewhat ignored.So sorry it has got to this .

    -- Posted by Bald Eagle on Sat, Aug 4, 2018, at 5:45 PM
  • My impression after reading this was that the board members are going to ignore the problem and concerns of the neighbors. I'm familiar with the park. I had no idea it had deteriorated to such a level. After reading this, I'll never again allow my family near the place.

    -- Posted by jandbnor on Sun, Aug 5, 2018, at 9:28 PM
  • More useful park with more programming. Hmmmm. How long has the park board been responsible for this property. Several years if I recall correctly. Why is there no programming in place yet after all this time? Signage? Really? Signs will be the first things to get shot up. I say close the park. Nothing good has ever happened there, since I was a teen in the 70’s. Drownings, crime, drug and under age alcohol abuse,now random gunfire. If the city can’t put adequate controls in place to at least stem the activity, then close it or sell it to someone that can.

    -- Posted by Vernie1 on Mon, Aug 6, 2018, at 12:18 PM
  • Fix the electricity.

    Install flood lights in the shelter house areas.

    Eliminate the entrance parking area, or extend the fence to

    include it.

    Hold an annual fishing tournament (and other events) out there to help fund these much needed upgrades.

    Allow the whole park to be rented for birthdays, reunions, etc.

    Remove a few of the mature trees in the back of the woods to help add funds as well.

    -- Posted by 10001110101 on Mon, Aug 6, 2018, at 4:14 PM
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