Vernon- A property dispute over park land in Vernon heated up this week. The property owner next to Waysisde Park claimed Vernon city officials destroyed a fence he put up in the area.
The city tried to sue Holmes Creek Canoe and Livery Owner, Hal Kirk after he built a privacy fence between his canoe rental business and the park. City officials claimed the fence blocked public access to the park and boat ramp.
But last week, a judge ruled the fence could stay. Kirk told us he built the fence to hide the park's rundown appearance from his customers.
"I've worked to the bone for four years. And they've had this park for 30 years and they ain't done nothing with it. Nothing! They won't even paint it" Kirk told us.
The whole dispute is over a park Kirk may actually own. He said he had been paying property taxes on the land and boat ramp for the past four years. He also said he had a land survey done that proved he owned the area.
Monday, Kirk went out to buy building for a sliding board. When he came back, city workers were knocking down his fence and survey markers.
"They come on my land and tear my fences down?" Kirk asked. "Where is my justice? Where is anybody else safe with their property? Can they come tare your house down with a back hoe?"
Kirk said he called sheriff's deputies, but they told him they couldn't help. "The law comes and they tell me if I go over there and try to stop them, until I get an injunction, they can't do anything about it" he said.
The issue begs the question, why would he continue to fight city hall? Well, Kirk told us18 years ago he was arrested for selling marijuana in the very same park. He said now, he wanted to help keep others from traveling down the same path.
"It all stemmed from this place right here. It made it so easy for me to get into it. And its still the same way for these kids today. It's so easy for them to get on the wrong track" he said.
And for that reason, Kirk said he would continue to challenge the city.
"I'll tell you I wont never quit" Kirk said tearfully. "They can put me in the deepest whole and I'll keep digging to get them off me. I don't know what else to do- this is it. This is all I got left."
Judge Chris Patterson said he could not rule on the land ownership, until Kirk filed a lawsuit. He and his attorney are considering legal options.