Jaycee Park activity concerns neighbors
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.