KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A new petition aims to save Watts Mill Park, a scenic overlook along Kansas City’s Indian Creek Greenway Trail near 103rd Street and State Line Road.
Business owners and neighbors have said used needles, empty alcohol bottles, fights, and nudity are making the park unsafe.
The co-owner of Jasper's Italian Restaurant started the petition after seeing problems himself and hearing concerns from neighboring business owners and their customers.
Twenty-three years ago, Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. chose the Watts Mill Shopping Center in South Kansas City as the perfect spot to serve customers.
“Beautiful area, beautiful park next to us,” he said.
This year, he said he has seen an increase in drug use, vandalism, drinking, piles of trash, and nudity at the recently renovated Watts Mill area.
“When I say, ‘indecent exposure,’ it’s really horrible,” he said. “I said, ‘I’ve had enough.’ A gentleman came after my brother with a machete.”
Kansas City paid a little over $260,000 for improvements to Watts Mill Park area.
“People don’t want to go down there right now,” Mirabile said. “How can taxpayers spend that kind of money and let this happen?”
After he started his petition, city councilmembers, the police, park rangers, and KC Parks and Recreation supervisors met with concerned community members Thursday.
“All the things that are going on right now in this country and this city and you have to call the police constantly over this,” Mirabile said. “It’s not right. They have better things to do.”
Roosevelt Lyons, KC Parks Deputy Director of Operations, said: “Watts Mill, like a lot of our parks, is seeing a pretty big influx of people experiencing homelessness. That’s due to COVID. A lot of the places they would normally go, including libraries and shelters, are either closed or at capacity.”
In response, KC Parks is increasing cleanup efforts. Police are increasing patrols. They are also working with nonprofits to offer resources to anyone experiencing homelessness.
Mirabile said he is thankful the community’s concerns are being addressed quickly.
“I want to make sure they know they can come down here and feel safe and know someone is watching that park,” he said.