HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – A riverfront favorite and a downtown destination. When temperatures warm, Owensboro’s Smothers Park is often filled with residents of all ages. But recurring incidents of vandalism over the past year has Assistant City Manager Lelan Hancock concerned.
“Our playgrounds are one that gets focused on, the fountains are one that people like to play in obviously. So that is a couple of the issues,” explains Hancock.
Hancock says some of the park’s facilities have been subject to vandalism. With that concern, Owensboro City Commissioners are proposing amending an ordinance that would remove the park’s 24 hour access. The change would close Smothers Park nightly between 12:30 am and 5 am.
“We try to keep the park nice and safe for everyone,” says Hancock. “Maintanence is a key issue in keeping things looking good, something we pride ourselves on, Smothers Park, our downtown area. So, this will help us do that, and any of those activities, or help reduce hopefully, those activities that are occurring.”
Kerry Bodenheimer with Owensboro Parks and Recreation adds, “It is, obviously, disappointing, if a small percentage cannot give the equipment or the ground the same respect as 99.9% of our citizens that use our facilities.”
Bodenheimer says the change would add consistency with other city parks that close nightly. Permits will allow exceptions to the ordinance, but Bodenheimer says many events at Smothers Park will not be affected.
“Since the park opened, we haven’t seen a lot of those planned activities take place, say, later than the normal 10 o’clock,” says Bodenheimer, “so it allows for those that are enjoying our restaurants and activities downtown to still enjoy the park.”
The ordinance could be passed at the commission meeting on April 18. Hancock says he believes there is enough support to implement the change.