The town is considering closing Bradley Park and the Lake Trail at night to discourage criminal activity.
The subject is scheduled to come before the Town Council on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. in the meeting chambers at Town Hall.
In a June 6 memo to Mayor Danielle Moore and the Town Council, Police Chief Nicholas Caristo wrote that residents have expressed concerns about “overnight usage” of Bradley Park. That has led the Police Department to monitor the park more closely while considering new ways to prevent crime.
“Many of the town’s burglaries and thefts over the years have been associated with criminals traveling the Lake Trail late 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.
With close proximity to West Palm Beach via the Flagler Bridge, and convenient, free parking nearby, there are few restrictions in place to prevent this specific form of criminal behavior, he wrote.
Staff is recommending the council consider passing an ordinance that would close Bradley Park and the Lake Trail overnight. Caristo suggested closure hours of 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.
“Having codified closure hours would provide the Police Department with a significant tool for detaining and investigating suspicious persons,” he wrote.
The popular and scenic Lake Trail extends from the Sailfish Club southward to the Town Marina. It borders Bradley Park and many single-family houses and residential buildings along the way.
The town has an ordinance against sleeping out in the open, but nothing that prohibits people from being in public areas after dark. As it now stands, police routinely check public areas and suggest that suspicious people move on, Town Manager Kirk Blouin said.
There has not been a significant uptick in criminal activity at the park or along the trail, apart from some recent bicycle thefts in the general area north of the Flagler Memorial [north] Bridge, Blouin said. He said the overnight closure recommendation is essentially proactive.
“As the population in Palm Beach County increases, this ordinance just makes sense,” Blouin said. “Law enforcement will have the tools to prohibit people from being in those areas during night hours.”
Town Attorney John Randolph advised that an overnight closure ordinance would be legal provided nighttime access to the trail is maintained for adjacent property owners. Some residents use the trail in the late evening hours, Blouin said.