Park users complain of high grass, poor conditions
Some Indy Parks are not looking very good and park users are taking notice, especially at one of the city's largest and best-known parks.
Kiersten Walters and her beagle Snickers, walk Eagle Creek Park on the city's west side regularly and lately, Walters doesn't like what she's seeing.
"Coming from previous years, they're not taking care of it quite as well," Walters said.
Others see it too.
Kevin Fitchey, another park regular, said, "I notice the grass high in certain areas. It's unkept and unevenly cut."
In several large areas, it looks like a hay field with piles of cut grass amid spiky rows of uncut grass. There's also high grass around trees, signs and even park benches.
"Sometimes, Snickers gets caught in the overgrown grass and we have to pull him out of the weeds...and I've gotten caught in plenty of thorns a little too close to the trail," Walters said.
Thing is, the city's tall grass and weeds ordinance requires property owners to keep grass and weeds no higher than 12 inches. Some of the rows of uncut grass at Eagle Creek measure close to three feet high. If it were a homeowner's lawn, they'd fine them.
The Department of Public Works does mowing and maintenance for city parks. Asked about Eagle Creek, DPW Spokesperson Lesley Gordon said, "we're a little behind on mowing because of heavy rain."
But had Eagle Creek even been mowed this season? Gordon was shown a handful of cut grass from Eagle Creek, again measuring nearly three feet long.
Asked if that was acceptable, she said, "No, but we're still completing our first cycle of mowing because of the rain."
A check of two other large parks, Riverside and Douglas, found both had been mowed, seemingly a few times, even around trees and signs.
Interestingly, the city counts Eagle Creek as one of its signature parks. It's the only one with an entry fee: $5 per car if you're from Marion County and $6 if your from a different county.
"You think you'd be getting more bang for a park," Walters said.
And it's not just the shoddy mow job.
"The bathrooms don't have toilet paper or soap," Walters said.
And that could be a problem if you've paid $75-$125 to rent a park shelter for the day. Lauren Williams, at Eagle Creek for a picnic with her family, said restroom conditions were not acceptable.
"I think (they) need to be cleaned. I've only been here a couple of times this year and it's usually like that," she said.
Gordon said she wasn't sure about the restrooms, she'd look into it. But like the mowing, she said some of cleaning is contracted out.
She said mowing and maintenance had not been cut back because of recent budget cuts. She also said staffing becomes more of an issue during the summer months with employees taking vacation time.
Gordon said inspectors do go out and check city parks and they would be "paying closer attention to detail."
Walters, who paid $50 for a season pass, hopes so.
"I'd love to see it more taken care of," she said. "I love coming here."