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Town closes Lake Trail, two public parks at night

Our Town with William Kelly: Town closes Lake Trail, two public parks at night

The Lake Trail, Bradley Park and Lake Drive Park are all closed to the public overnight from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m.

The closure, which town officials say will discourage criminal activity, took effect immediately upon the Town Council’s adoption of an ordinance on Tuesday.

Property owners along the Lake Trail are exempt from the overnight closure of the popular recreational path, which extends more than five miles from the Sailfish Club to Lake Drive Park.

Town Marina customers and town staff are exempt from the overnight closure of Lake Drive Park, a popular neighborhood park adjacent to the busy marina.

“Closing town parks and the Lake Trail at a reasonable hour will maintain safety for those who live here and for those who visit,” Council President Margaret Zeidman said Friday. “No one needs to be in a public park or on the Lake Trail in the wee hours of the morning.”

The council originally approved the closure in June after Police Chief Nicholas Caristo recommended it. Caristo said police have stepped up surveillance of the Lake Trail and Bradley Park after hearing residents’ concerns about suspicious activity.

Caristo noted that Bradley Park borders the Lake Trail and is beside the entrance to the Flagler Memorial (north) Bridge, providing criminals with a quick exit from the town. There’s also plenty of parking available near Bradley Park.

“Many of the town’s burglaries and thefts over the years have been associated with criminals traveling the Lake Trail at night in an attempt to obfuscate their activities from police and public scrutiny, with Bradley Park serving as a convenient hub and access point,” Caristo wrote in a memo to Mayor Danielle Moore and the council.

The overnight closure of Lake Drive Park is intended to strengthen security for the 84-slip marina, which reopened in November after undergoing a $38 million reconstruction.

Town Manager Kirk Blouin described the overnight closures as proactive and said there has not been a crime wave on the trail or in either of the parks, apart from reports of a few stolen bicycles along or near the trail.

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