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City studies Allan Yorke Park crime

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By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

Crime problems at Allan Yorke Park have kept the Bonney Lake Police Department busy this summer and two committees are considering solutions to help the officers.

Problems include groups of teenagers fighting and disturbing the peace by shouting and using profanity, speeding cars on West Tapps Highway, drug dealing and burglary.

During the past three weeks someone has tried to break into the park's concession stand after dark.

According to Gary Leaf, director of community services, in the first break-in, the perpetrators stole candy and supplies costing about $1,000. Since the break-in, the city has put bars and a grid over the window.

In the last attempt a person used a torch to try and melt the lock and nearly caught the building on fire.

“That kind of activity is probably indicative of drugs,” Leaf said. “The police department is really on top of this. We think a lot of the problems are with kids who are not from around here.”

Police have been active keeping park problems under control.

“We've made an impact,” interim Police Chief Buster McGehee said. “The problems come from the volume of traffic on a small street (West Tapps Highway) and the volume of people on a nice day.”

Both the city's Park Board and Public Safety Committee are considering measures to help police control the problems at the park, both during the day and at night.

“The Park Board is determined to keep that a family park,” Leaf said. “They will not waiver from that.”

At the July 11 City Council meeting, Councilman Phil DeLeo said the Public Safety Committee is considering options like blocking off or closing West Tapps Highway.

Leaf said the best option for the highway would be to approach Pierce County and ask to close or vacate the road and build an alternate road around the park.

Vacating the road would allow the police to shut down and control the park.

DeLeo said another option is to fence off and lock up the public parking lots at night.

“The problems are getting worse every year,” DeLeo said. “We are trying to give the Police Department some tools to deal with the problems.”

Leaf said the numbers of people and boaters at Allan Yorke Park are exacerbated by the North Lake Tapps County Park charging $7 to park and $10 to launch a boat.

Bonney Lake's parking is free and a single launch cost is $12 for anyone and a summer pass is $25 for city residents.

Leaf said the Park Board is considering an increase in launch fees to help slow the numbers of people coming to the park and offset the $50,000 the city spent improving and expanding the parking lots.

“People at the county park don't want to pay to park and boaters don't want to pay $17 to launch,” Leaf said. “ We realize increasing fees won't solve everything, but it will help.”

Leaf said it would be next year before any decisions about the park could be implemented.

Blocking or vacating the West Tapps Highway and building an alternate route would likely take much longer than one year.

Dennis box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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