AUSTIN (KXAN) — People living off the Barton Creek Greenbelt in the Woods at Westlake Heights neighborhood say public outdoor activity has skyrocketed since the pandemic began.
Their issue is lot of these visitors who are exercising and enjoying the outdoors are leaving a path of destruction behind them.
On Sunday, witnesses say a silver truck, driven by two young women, slammed into a stone pillar mailbox and then drove off. Those who witnessed the crash say they believed the women were drunk after a day on the greenbelt.
Neighbors told KXAN that’s just one example of the bad behavior they have seen lately.
“We’re not dealing with a neighborly crowd. It’s sort of a water park mentality around here,” says Christie Schultz, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2011.
Schultz, along with a handful of others, said litter is constantly bombarding their yards and there is often a never-ending line of illegally parked cars wrapping around their streets.
They said driveways are frequently used as loading and staging areas for people to get their beer coolers situated and that greenbelt-goers may act aggressively or make lewd and inappropriate gestures in front of children and families.
Some neighbors even formed a task force and sent a letter to the city, complaining about these issues.
“It’s become a little less respected than it used to be,” says Daniel Loverro, whose mailbox was destroyed.
One mile up along the water, there are similar issues.
The Lost Creek Limited District is now charging non-residents a fee to use the greenbelt. General Manager Jim Emmons said the costs of picking up the trash and maintaining security has become too much.
“We are simply trying to come to grips with managing the additional burden on the facility,” Emmons says.
Neighbors just hope someone steps in to hold visitors accountable.
“Don’t litter, don’t trespass. Put your dog on a leash, get your dog’s waste in a trash can and watch out for little kids. Don’t speed, follow the rules. These are all kindergarten lessons but we are having to deal with these realities,” Schultz says.
KXAN could not reach the city of Austin on Monday due to the holiday. Neighbors did share, however, that the transportation and parking department has become more responsive to complaints lately, helping to enforce traffic and parking in the area.