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Privacy fence is missing a link

Juanne Lockett has made only one request — the construction of a privacy fence — from Federal Way in the past four months, and she will not settle until that request is met.

In April, Lockett sent Mayor Michael Park a letter and photos explaining that Cedar Grove Park, located at South 333rd Street and 24th Avenue South, a space constructed by the city near Lockett’s home, was causing her to experience a high volume of trespassers who use her yard as a shortcut to the park.

She requested a fence. Today, Lockett and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services personnel have still not come to an agreement as to what kind of fence is best suited for Lockett’s property.

About one month after Lockett wrote the mayor, the city responded. She was told if she wanted a fence, she would need to build it herself. The city does not regularly construct fences around its parks, said Donna Hanson, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director.

This was not the answer Lockett hoped to hear.

As the summer months came, so did more children and teenagers, Lockett said. They snuck across her yard, and blazed three paths through the underbrush and vegetation at the back of Lockett’s property, to enter the park from its west side.

“I don’t know any of these kids,” Lockett said.

Since April, Lockett has refused to leave her back door open or sit on her porch. There is just no telling when someone will trespass, and she worries one day a park-goer may enter her residence uninvited, Lockett said.

Three months after Lockett’s initial request for a fence, the city has finished the park. A gravel path, outlined by chain-link fence, is now in place at the north end of the property where park-goers used to cut through more neighbors’ yards to reach the play area.

The path provides easy access to the park from its north end. It also helps discourage children and teens from using neighbors’ property as shortcuts to the park, as what was happening in late April, Hanson said.

Lockett’s property has no fence, and alternate routes to reach the west side of the park are nonexistent.

She has discovered that upon construction of the park, the city built her neighbors a wood privacy fence. Seeing that one of her neighbors has been provided a privacy fence and another has been provided a gravel path to deter trespassers has fueled Lockett’s desire for the city to assist her in keeping her property safe.

She has stayed in contact with Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services personnel, letting them know she is not going to give up on her request.

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services personnel agreed to pay a visit to Lockett’s home, she said. After the visit, the city offered to install a chain-link fence on her property, she said. The fence would be sturdy and plastic coated, Hanson said.

“We tried to use the fencing to prevent people from accessing the park through private property,” Hanson said.

In Lockett’s opinion, a chain-link fence is not enough to keep trespassers out of her yard. That kind of fence is easy to crawl over, she said.

“It’s so simple — put your foot in, hop over, call it a day,” Lockett said.

The city’s unwillingness to build Lockett a fence similar to her next-door neighbors’ fences has further angered her. A compromise between Lockett and the city has not been reached.

The city does not wish to install a wood fence for Lockett because those fences tend to be kicked-in and people paint graffiti on them, Hanson said.

The main reason Lockett’s neighbors received a wood fence is because when the patch of trees in front of their homes’ entryways were cleared for Cedar Grove Park, it left the neighbors’ front door positioned only feet from the park, Hanson said.

The wood fence was needed for the residents’ privacy, she said. Unlike Lockett’s property, her neighbors’ property does not have underbrush between their yard and the park. The fence was not constructed to deter trespassers like the gravel path lined with chain-link fence at the north end of the property was, Hanson said.

The city has tried to be consistent in the alleviation methods it has offered to the park’s neighbors who are experiencing trespassing problems, Hanson said. This is why Lockett has been offered the chain-link fence, she said.

Consistency would include a wood fence for all the neighbors affected by the park’s existence, Lockett said. Although she is not angered by the existence of the public park, Lockett is upset by what she sees as poor planning of the area, she said. She told Hanson in early August that she will not settle for a chain-link fence, she said.

“We want to be treated fairly, and I’m not being treated fairly,” Lockett said.

Staci Lockett, Juanne Lockett’s daughter, is irritated that her mother has had to put so much effort into protecting herself and her property from the trespassers. Staci Lockett pays her property taxes, as does her mother, and she wants to see her tax money used to serve the residents of Federal Way, she said.

Juanne Lockett does not want to make trouble, but she feels the city is hoping she will drop the issue and learn to live without a fence, she said.

“I’m trying to be calm and understanding, but I keep getting pushed back,” Juanne Lockett said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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