Photo by Curt Yeomans
Morrow resident Doug Clark files a complaint with the city council about the way his dogs are antagonized by visitors at a park located next to his home. Clark said the “paradise” he and his wife created in their backyard has been “downgraded” by the park’s existence.
MORROW — Neighborhood parks are intended to improve the quality of life in an area, but Doug and Kimberly Clark said a park built behind their home a few years ago is nothing but a nuisance.
The couple has lived in their home for 12 years. They got the home because it had been in the family since before they moved in, but Doug Clark said part of the attraction was the seclusion provided by a wooded area behind their house.
“It really made it nice and private back there so you could enjoy the backyard,” he said. “We have a pool and palm trees and bananas and stuff back there so it’s our little paradise.”
Things then changed unexpectedly in their neighborhood. The city cut down the trees and built Shirley and Wendell Watterson Park at the corner of Stratford Arms Drive and Harbin Woods Drive without notifying residents, alleged Clark. The Clark’s home borders the park.
The couple claims adults and children peer through three-feet of bamboo and try to antagonize their two Great Danes. Park visitors run towards the dogs and jump up and down in an attempt to get the canines excited. In the last two months, however, the efforts to antagonize the dogs have escalated to children shooting at them with BB guns.
“When they cut all that down and put the park in, then everybody starts coming up, looking in and throwing stuff in because a lot of people can’t stand to see something nice — they have to destroy it,” said Doug Clark. “Paradise was at least downgraded for sure.”
Morrow officials pledged Tuesday night to address the issues in Watterson Park after the Clarks lodged a complaint about it with the city council. The park has become a “shooting gallery” because of the use of BB guns in the park, and drug use has also infiltrated the property, according to the couple.
“It’s gotten worse in the last year but there’s always been something [going on] with the dogs,” said Kimberly Clark. She said the use of BB guns on their dogs began about two months ago.
City Manager Jeff Eady said he will work with city police Chief Chris Leighty to address the issues raised by the Clarks. He said some of the issues stem from the fact that the Georgia Transmission Corporation controls the right of ways along the property line which separates the park from the neighboring residential properties.
Eady said the city wants to get the corporation’s permission before it builds a wall to separate the homes from the park.
Leighty said some of the issues with the park stem from the transient nature which exists in some of the properties in the area, including an apartment complex where people can move in for as little as $299.
“We’re in a mobile society and as part of the mobile society, you have to be willing to understand some of the people using the parks are not going to be coming in there for lawful purposes the park was designed for,” said Leighty. “That’s where the police become involved.”
The chief vowed to fight back against the type of behavior about which Doug Clark told the council with more directed patrols and “possibly some check points” in the area around the park. He said people going into the Clark’s backyard can be a minor criminal offense but he also said he is worried about allegations that people are shooting BB guns and doing drugs on the property.
“If we have a criminal element in the park and drug usage, shooting guns and threatening citizens, it’s not going to be tolerated,” said Leighty.