LITTLE MOUNTAIN — Until further notice, the Town of Little Mountain has decided to close off Rocky Branch Park to improve security measures and perform park repairs.
Mayor Jana Jayroe said the town first began having trouble with people breaking into the bathrooms, usually occurring at night.
“Then we had complaints from people who live very close to Rocky Branch saying that during the day there was so much traffic, but it wasn’t people walking, it was cars meeting and then leaving, they felt that it was some type of drug-related transactions,” she said. “Since they live there I absolutely believe them, because I don’t live that close to it so I felt that there was probably a lot more traffic than I even knew about if it was so bad that they were reporting it to me, I felt that they would probably not report one or two incidences so it must be a lot more than that for them to feel uncomfortable with what was going on.”
The town also began seeing people sitting in cars, usually around late Sunday, with multiple people in the car who were not walking the trail and various drug paraphernalia.
“We also had flooding problems in 2015, we’ve been working on the trail since then, we still have work to do on the trail so we decided that the best thing would be to close it down for a while because if you go down there are mounds of asphalt remains that can’t be used so it was donated to us and we can put in on the trail and pack it down because we’re not going to have a car run over it, we’re trying to finish putting that on the trail,” Jayroe said.
The gates, Jayroe said, will be metal and close off the entire entrance of Rocky Branch which will now be closed at night.
“There’s no reason for people to be there at night, it’s very dark at night, we have one security light, but it’s very dark and you can’t walk the trail of course at night,” she said.
The park has been closed off for the past three weeks, but Jayroe hopes that the community will soon be able to walk the trail again.
“We’re hoping we can open it again shortly, we’re going to put the gates up so when it’s dark it will be closed, we’re hoping that will make it safe for families and everyone who would like to just walk the trail,” Jayroe said.
In addition to closing off Rocky Branch, the Town of Little Mountain will also be implementing more security measures with cameras, lights and sensors that will take pictures of people who are in the park at night which will then be turned over to law enforcement. The town is also looking into getting a retired police officer to patrol Rocky Branch.
“We haven’t decided yes or no, we have to weigh all the facts, of course my biggest concern is what if something happens, I don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone, if God forbid something did happen to him, how would we be able to help, what would the legal recourse be for everybody,” Jayroe said.
Sheriff Lee Foster said that they have assisted the town in taking measures at Rocky Branch.
“There have been some reports of some alcohol, beer cans, things like that, possible drug paraphernalia and condoms being found down there, we have taken some measures, we’ve installed a video surveillance system, we don’t have any reports of anybody being molested or assaulted, just suspicious activity,” Foster said. “The park and trail have not been closed based on recommendations of the Sheriff’s Office.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.