The city has bright yellow metal barriers called bollards locked into place at the park's paved entrance, which are supposed to block motor traffic. A Durham ordinance prohibits driving past the barriers into the park. But lately, neighbors have complained about seeing cars and trucks inside the park.
"It's dangerous," said Nicole Taylor as she watched her children play with a friend's kids in the park, not far from the bollards. "Because clearly, they have these marked here, for no vehicles to come through here!"
Some vehicles squeeze through anyway, crushing plants at the park's entrance and breaking the law. We've seen several posts about this on neighborhood listservs, including one written by a woman who confronted a man she saw seconds before he drove over the already battered plants at the entrance.
Her post, sent to members of the Partners Against Crime listserv, tells how she saw a guy pull a sign out of the ground at the park entrance to create enough room for a pickup truck to squeeze past the bollards into the park. Then, when she asked him not to drive over the plants and reminded him that motor vehicles aren't allowed, she said he asked her, "Well, how am I supposed to get my big grill out?"
There are already grills installed in the park. Nicole Taylor told us she and her husband watched that truck driver pull the sign out, and then, "He drove right on through, and parked right there, came back and put the sign back in."
"He shouldn't do that! He shouldn't do that," said Jimmy Everette."That takes the beauty away from the park, and the solitude."
Rhonda Parker, the city's parks and recreation director, told me more bollards and some big rocks will be installed within days, closer to the crushed plants at the entrance, to keep traffic out. She also said she'll ask police to follow up on the neighborhood's complaints.
Everett hopes the police catch the lawbreakers in the act next time. "It's a park. People should treat it as a park!"
For now, the parks and rec director says neighbors should call the police next time they spot someone trying to drive past the barriers at the Duke Park entrance.