• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

‘I don’t know what it is about this area that attracts mischief’, Visitors causing problems at Weise

Bryan Pryor and his family moved next door to the historic Weisenberger Mill Bridge, on the Woodford County side, not long before it was closed by the state for safety reasons July 1, 2016. The renovated one-lane bridge reopened last December, and Pryor and plenty of neighbors on both sides of Elkhorn Creek are unhappy with what’s been happening since, particularly after the weather warmed up. Some have installed fences and even barbed wire to keep people from crossing their property to get to the bridge. Others have added “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs. Pryor said they did these things because they were tired of people parking on their land and, while crossing private property to get to the bridge, littering. Pryor said he put up a “no trespassing” sign after police told him that until signs were posted and property boundaries were identifiable, there wasn’t much they could do. That advice led to property owners living on the Woodford and Scott County sides of the bridge installing fences and barbed wire. Another problem caused by bridge visitors is people who park on the side of the road and obstruct the vision of motorists, residents and police said. Of one neighbor, Pryor said, “People are climbing across her horse fence, breaking boards, and they don’t care – and right in front of ‘private property, no trespassing’ signs. They don’t care, and that’s why additional measures … have been taken by people.” “Of course, what’s happened is now people can’t cross those other areas (and) now we’re getting more of that trespassing,” Pryor said. Versailles Police Assistant Chief Rob Young said his department has increased patrols in the area and is working with property owners to address their concerns. “Part of (the problem) is, it’s a situation that’s been ongoing for years – that people have used those areas around the bridge to access the water for recreational purposes,” Young said. “Although they’ve done it for years … their ability to access the water from private property has been taken away by those property owners. They don’t want them on that property anymore. With that being said, hopefully, people will respect their right not to have people on their land.” A public education period is underway and citations for littering and trespassing are among the possible penalties, Young said. “ … If there’s any parking that we find on the roadway that obstructs travel, they will be towed. If it’s on private property, the property owner has the responsibility and the right to have those vehicles towed …” Young said. “I appreciate that they’ve finally started dealing with cars. If they can’t get people to move (from no parking areas), they are towing now,” Pryor said. Pryor said people on both sides of the bridge have posted “no parking” signs and hired towing companies to monitor the area, which has led to some vehicles being towed from private properties. But parking illegally isn’t the only vehicle-related problem; motorists have also damaged the historic stone wall and the carriage barn across the road, he said. Other residents say they’ve seen large congregations on and around the bridge and pedestrians unwilling to make way for vehicles. Pryor acknowledged that some of the increased visitation to the area may be related to COVID-19-related restrictions that increased a desire for outdoor recreation. “From our perspective, it’s increased 10-fold,” Pryor said of the number of visitors since the bridge reopened. Some of the trespassers are leaving litter behind, ranging from beer cans to used toilet paper, he said. “We’ve cleaned up bags of trash at a time …” Pryor said. “I don’t know what it is about this area that attracts mischief,” he added. “I lived in Lexington for 20 years and I never had to call a cop. I live in Woodford County and we’re calling the cops weekly.”

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