Council allocates $74,000 for maintenance, safety efforts at Fairview Woods Wetlands Park

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - A piece of burned carpet, surrounded by trees and foliage, lies on the ground in Fairview Woods Wetlands Park.The city of Fairview will spend $74,000 to address residents’ complaints of crime, vandalism and lack of general maintenance at Fairview Woods Wetlands Park.

The Fairview City Council heard recommendations Wednesday, Aug. 20, from the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee before unanimously voting to go with the committee’s proposed solution.

Lisa Barton Mullins, council liaison for the parks committee, said the committee worked with residents who live in the area and homes bordering the park to determine what improvements are needed.

“What they came up with were six different ideas to help with the park,” Barton Mullins said.

The solutions address general maintenance and public safety at the park.

The first round of improvements totaling $42,000 are scheduled for September and include trail widening and tree trimming.

Fairview Woods Wetlands Park, in the 23000 block of Bridge Street not far from Northeast Halsey Street, is an 8-acre park with an extensive system of meandering trails through forest and along wetlands.

Barton Mullins said widening certain trails will allow volunteer citizens to patrol and police better access to patrol the park and respond to incidents.

Also, a tree recently toppled onto a trail, which is an obvious public safety issue, she said. Trees will be trimmed and topped, and dying or dead trees will be removed.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - A broken toy car and litter is in a small clearing in Fairview Woods Wetlands Park. Crime and vandalism in the park have become a problem for the city.Many residents and neighbors who use the park have asked the city to bring back the goats.

Several years ago, the city hired a company called Healing Hooves, which brought in a herd of goats to feast on invasive ivy along the park trails. The city plans to bring in more goats in October for a full clearing, rather than a partial clearing, at an estimated cost of $10,000.

In November, the city proposes to do planting, fencing and install additional signage within the park.

Barton Mullins said there are paths that run along the backs of residents’ homes, where teenagers can be found drinking alcohol and using illegal substances. By putting in native plant species over the paths, she said, “We are trying to eliminate those trails that aren’t supposed to be there.”

Both residents and the parks committee agree it’s a good idea to install a 6-foot cyclone fence between Fairview Oaks and Woods apartments and the city park.

“It’s to eliminate people from just coming into the park from anywhere they want,” Barton Mullins said. She said the fence won’t block apartment dwellers from accessing the park, but will encourage people to enter at the park’s trailheads.

Barton Mullins said the city has not yet spoken with management at the apartment complex about the project.

Lastly, the city plans to replace and install new signs and trail markers within the park to increase awareness and safety in case of an incident.

The multi-phase project is scheduled for completion Dec. 1.

An April incident involving two young people who allegedly shot a BB gun or pellet gun at windows of a home bordering Fairview Woods sparked concern from residents.

The Outlook spoke with Shawn Stanfill who lives on Bridge Street near the park. Stanfill said he and neighbors have been dealing with issues at the park for 10 years, including shotgun fire, vandalism to homes, break-ins, thefts, graffiti on trees and one person’s Jeep on Bridge Street was set ablaze and destroyed.

Stanfill is glad the city is addressing the problems, and said he has been advocating for the goats to come back “for years.”

However, if the fence goes in, he believes the apartment complex should improve its video surveillance so police can monitor the area better. Stanfill, who has installed video cameras on the side of his house to scare off vandals, said the cameras need to be of a higher quality, so police can identify those caught on video.

“It will be a waste if they put in a fence and it gets abused,” Stanfill said.

While the city’s efforts may work, Stanfill said what’s at the heart of the issue is disenfranchised youths who could benefit from a community center or after school program.

“Personally, I think they should turn that City Hall into one,” he said.

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