JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People who live in the East Hampton subdivision located off Baymeadows Road are in an uproar over a community basketball court that's attracting a lot of outsiders.
According to residents, people who don't live in the neighborhood are keeping children who do live there from enjoying the court and have even physically threatened the children and their parents.
News4Jax on Thursday spoke with concerned neighbors, who said some parents with concealed carry licenses are so fearful for their personal safety and the safety of their children that they're now bringing their guns with them when they go to the court.
A 15-foot fence has been put up around the basketball court. But before the fence was installed, East Hampton neighbors said, many outsiders would come and take over, preventing their children from using it.
"They're very disrespectful to the parents and the kids alike," said Richard Wahl, who lives in East Hampton.
One resident said he's even been threatened. News4Jax has chosen not to identify him because he fears retaliation.
"I had one altercation dating back a few months ago, and one was going to assault me and he was held back by another," the resident said.
Though the fence around the basketball court has a door with a magnetic lock, neighbors said, threatening outsiders still find a way to get in.
“You have people who are trespassing, who come to the gate and are threatening our kids to open the gate," the unnamed resident said. "They threaten adults -- both male and female.”
Some residents said they're also upset because they pay more than $190 in homeowners association fees per quarter to utilize the amenities, which include the court and the pool.
“They don’t live here, so they have no respect for the property or community. They leave their trash behind," Wahl said. "(There's) lots of issues with language, foul language...around small children."
Residents said the outsiders have caused problems off the court as well.
“It’s a problem where it bleeds over to the parking lot. There’s been drug sales over there. There’s been open smoking of marijuana over there. They’re jumping the fence into the pool area, jumping in there with full clothes on," the unnamed resident said.
Although there's "no trespassing" signs posted around the basketball court and the pool, News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the signs may not be enough.
“That sign would not hold up in court because it’s not a legal sign. According to Florida state statute, it would have to be 2 inches in height and stenciled with orange lettering. There are specific guidelines for it to be a legal 'no trespassing' sign, and it must say, 'no trespassing' in order for police to make an arrest," Smith said.
According to Smith, actual no-trespass signs need to be posted on the outskirts of the property to warn people in advance that trespassing is not allowed.
Without the "no trespassing" signs in place, it could become a liability issues because if a trespasser was injured on the court, that person could legally go after the homeowners association. But if there is an actual "no trespassing sign," that person wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court.