Situation at Park Is Turning Ugly 

"I have become increasing concerned and appalled by a grotesque situation developing in Gillies Creek Park ..."

In recent months I have become increasing concerned and appalled by a grotesque situation developing in Gillies Creek Park on city property bounded by Admiral Gravely, Government Road and Stoney Run Parkway. While the city has gone to a lot of trouble to develop many wonderful additions to this park (disk golf, horseshoe pits, ball diamonds and a mountain-bike course), a small group of people has been allowed to set up a makeshift camp on the Government Road edge of the park. What was once a beautiful grassy lawn area has been turned into an ugly eyesore at the entrance of our community. On a daily basis, a large number of members of this group are allowed to drive their cars into this area of the park (even though there are no proper roads here), to turn the grassy lawn into a muddy parking lot, to burn drum fires and to set up a permanent collection of junk tables and chairs. What was once a community asset has been turned into a festering mess and an embarrassment to the community. As a nearby property owner for 25 years, I detest the idea that my drive home every day is marred by this hideous site and that the desirability of our neighborhood is being compromised this garbage dump on park property.

I have contacted representatives of the city police, City Council and the Department of Parks and Recreation to complain about this situation and to inquire as to why this blatant misuse of park property is condoned and why police officials aren't enforcing city ordinances and written park regulations.

It seems that the police are unwilling to enforce parking regulations under the flimsy excuse that occasionally, during large park events such as soccer tournaments or bicycle races, the public is allowed to park on the grass. Of course, street parking during those types of events is totally exhausted and there is clearly no alternative. Still, this does not excuse the everyday abuse and property damage caused by this other group. Also, if the permanent collection of junk furniture and overturned trash cans documented in my photos do not constitute littering, I would have no idea what would.

I hope that your investigation and exposure may cause city officials to step up to the plate and protect a city asset before this group manages to destroy it. Parks are supposed to be spots of beauty which enhance the communities in which they are located. In this case, the permitted abuse of Gilles Creek Park has created an ugly scar on the face of our community. I am embarrassed to live nearby.

Barry Hill
Richmond

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