It’s long been a problem, police and city officials say, drivers mudding and doing donuts at Lake Pat Cleburne, Buddy Stewart Park and even at times other city parks.
“It’s very costly,” Cleburne Councilwoman Gayle White said. “It takes time to clean that up and get the parks back to normal. It damages the beauty of our parks and lake, which we should all be proud of, and it takes away from the ability of families and others to enjoy those parks.
“The lake and those parks are something we as a community are fortunate to have and something a lot of smaller cities don’t have to enjoy. We need to take pride in that, take care of them and not tear them up.”
Cleburne Police Chief Rob Severance agreed.
“Absolutely,” Severance said. “Those places are beautiful amenities to the city that benefit our residents and serve to draw tourism into town and they need to be enjoyed and respected, not vandalized.”
Metal pipe fencing blocks access to much of Lake Pat’s frontage areas but mudding remained common within the parking areas along Lake Shore Drive. Police often responded to criminal mischief calls only to find the guilty driver or drivers long gone but having left a soupy slop of muddy ruts behind.
“I can’t even count how many times we’ve gone out on those calls, people out mudding at the lake or the parks,” Parks and Recreation Director Burton Barr said. “We repair and level it off as best we can but a lot of time it rains again and they’re out there again. They’ve caught some kids out there over the years. But the sad thing is that people living out on Lake Shore by the lake will see that and call it in. But there doesn’t happen to be a policeman out near the area at that time they’re usually gone before anyone gets there.”
City workers began installing cables throughout parking areas at Lake Pat in effort to minimize mudding.
“The street department workers put those in and we’re in charge of maintaining them,” Barr said. “They’re working on the next section now near the boat ramp area. So far they seem to be working since, you can park there but, you can’t really get in there and drive around much. We’re hoping they work anyway because we’ve spent a lot of money and manpower cleaning up after the mudders.”
Cleburne Fire Chief Clint Ishmael applauds the cables.
“It doesn’t bother us because there are several sections of that pipe fence we can open when we need to get trucks or equipment down to the lake,” Ishmael said. “It’s a shame it has to come to that with the cables but otherwise people get out there in their trucks and do dumb things.”
Buddy Stewart Park remains prone to mudding and at times rife with ruts as well.
“A few years back the council set aside some money for a project to install more pipe fencing out there to cut down on people being able to get their cars and trucks into the park,” Barr said. “But when we went out to bid on that the prices came back about $120,000 more than we had budgeted. Hopefully that’s something that can be done out there in the years ahead maybe in stages if not all at once.”
Should the idea of installing additional fencing receive a revisit it won’t be in the immediate future, Assistant City Manager Chris Fuller said.
“We have plans to replace some of the signs out there next year as well as some of the post and cable fencing and replace some of the old concrete picnic tables with newer models,” Fuller said. “But that’s something the council could always consider during upcoming budgets.”
Which officials say in no way should be taken as an invitation to those who enjoy donuts and mudding.
“No, that constitutes destruction of property and trouble for you if you’re caught doing that,” Cleburne Police Officer Brian McQueen said. “We’ve increased patrols in those areas and we continue to encourage anyone who sees that type of activity going on to report it.”