April 18, 2012 - Ron Davis is fed up with the way people are flagrantly violating and in some cases, just plain ignoring the rules at Seymour Lake Township Park.
"It's getting out of hand at the park," said the director of the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department. "I always tell people if this was your yard, you wouldn't do this stuff. Respect it as if it was your yard."
To combat this brazen disregard for a public facility, Davis arranged for Oakland County Sheriff's deputies to beef up their patrols of the 125-acre park in the late afternoon and evening.
"A lot of the stuff typically happens between 4 and 9 p.m.," Davis said.
And what exactly is happening?
"You can go up there and see dogs off leashes, people not stopping at the stop signs, people driving on the grass, people drinking (alcohol)," Davis said. "It's nonstop. It's ridiculous."
He informed the township board of a recent incident in which Park Superintendent Jeff Kinasz was bitten on the leg by a dog, which was not on a leash as required by township ordinance.
Davis cannot believe some of the things he's encountered.
Even though the park's Kids Kingdom playground has a clearly-posted sign indicating that both smoking and dogs are prohibited from the area, Davis found a man sitting on a bench with his German Shepherd and smoking a cigarette.
When Davis told him that neither was allowed in the playground area, he responded, "What am I supposed to do? Sit in the car to watch my kids?"
"People are just ignorant," Davis noted.
The director also recently found a man walking across the park's ball fields at around 3 p.m. with a beer in his hand. No alcohol of any kind is permitted at the park.
This same individual was also spotted driving on the grass so as to avoid all the speed bumps and stop signs.
"It's just frustrating," Davis said.
On top of the additional sheriff's patrols, Davis is also planning to have a new sign installed reminding visitors of what is and is not permitted.
"It's just reiterating the park rules," he said. "Don't speed. No alcohol. If you do take a dog, have it on a leash, pick up the waste and properly dispose of it."
Davis is amazed how many people treat the park as their dog's private toilet without any consideration for others.
"I never, ever see anybody out there with a bag in their hand," he said.
Davis urged visitors to help police the park by reporting violators whenever they see them. "I'm not asking anybody to approach anybody or confront them," he said. "But if you see something, call the parks' office or the sheriff's department."
Folks who spot a violator should try to provide as much information as possible such as license plate number, vehicle description, type of clothing they were wearing, type of violation(s) that occurred and time of the incident.
"We'll pursue it," Davis said.
If the beefed up sheriff's patrols don't work, Davis is considering lobbying the township to hire a second ordinance officer to keep an eye on the park and issue citations to violators. The parks department could share the cost of this individual with the township, he said.
Those who spot ordinance violators are asked to call the parks office at (248) 628-1720 or the sheriff's dept. at (248) 858-4950.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.