It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt — and that sentiment is going strong in a local neighborhood in attempts to prevent catastrophic accidents.
An ongoing stream of motorcycles, four-wheelers, and other ATVs racing through Watonga Park at all hours of the night is beginning to take its toll on residents living near.
“For about the last year, there have been anywhere between one and four fourwheelers and motorcycles at any given time,” resident Regina Adams said, noting the racers do so even as late as 11 p.m. with no regard for the public. “They’re riding at high rates of speeds, doing wheelies, donuts and racing each other all through the park whether there are people there or not.”
Adams has spoken with multiple HPD officers to try getting a handle on the issue — but received a stunning response.
“I’ve spoken to an officer who was actually at the Masonic Lodge as this was going on and visible,” she said. “I asked him if there was anything he could do—ticket them or something. He basically said it was a Parks issue and they can’t write a citation.”
Adams has proceeded to contact the Urban Park Rangers multiple times to send someone out. Unfortunately, though a representative is eventually sent out, she said the riders are long gone by the time Rangers arrive—and something must change to head off the problem.
“It’s against city ordinance for them to be doing this, so it’s more than a Park Ranger issue, it’s also a law enforcement issue in my opinion,” she said. “I know you’re not supposed to have motorized vehicles in the park, plus it’s very clear that what they’re doing is endangering others — but they told me there’s nothing they can do.”
Not normally one to raise an uproar, Adams said she could not just sit idly by and let this trend continue. “I feel obnoxious doing this (pestering law enforcement), but this is obnoxious what they (riders) are doing,” she said. “Somebody once saw them in the park whenever the Little League kids were practicing, so just the thought of one of those kids chasing after a ball and getting run over is awful.”
Division Manager Richard Blake of the Urban Park Rangers sympathized with Adams’ (and others’) sentiments, but said the randomness the accompanies the riding makes it difficult to address.
“We have received calls about the ATVs and have increased our frequency of patrols in that area,” he said. “The riders ride at various times so it is a matter of timing.”
However, he said the Parks Department and HPD are currently in the process of hashing out methods of coordination between the two departments to regulate and halt such activity.