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A surge in trespassing and littering inside a county park has county officials asking for the public’s help in tackling the problems.
County Administrator Steve Willis brought the issue of Bear Creek Park to Lancaster County Council’s attention during its June 23 meeting.
Located off Potter Road and along Bear Creek, the park has been attracting unwelcome attention from trespassers after hours, Willis said.
“We’ve been getting a lot of complaints from neighboring property owners about trespassing, littering and that kind of stuff,” Willis said.
The park is open to the public from sunup to sundown and is used primarily for shore fishing or for picnics.
The actual lake is considered private property and the county has already installed cable barriers to prevent people from launching their boats there, though little has kept people from going into the park at night.
“We have put up signs, placed cable barriers and put up a barbed wire fence, but there’s nothing to keep people from getting over,” he said. “There’s not really any way to do anything because of the lake. If we put a 10-foot chain link fence around the park, people can just walk down to the lake, go around and get on the property.”
Though members of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and S.C. Department of Natural Resources regularly patrol the area, Willis said county staff have come to an impasse about finding a way to stop trespassers.
“There’s not much we can do to keep people out. We can’t fence in the area completely because you’d have to fence in the shore and if you do that then why have a park,” he said.
Willis worries if the problem continues the park may eventually be closed, though it’s not an option he favors.
“We’ve done everything we can responsibly do as a county. All we (as the county) can do is close the park, but I recommend we work with Parks and Recreation to address the concerns first,” Willis said.
Instead, Willis hopes to enlist the public’s help in keeping the park safe and clean, and asks people to spread the word about the proper hours for using the park.
“We’re trying to avoid having to close the park and we’re hoping public education will help. It’s a nice little park and we’d like to keep it,” he said.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416