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Waynesville now owns park, can forcefully remove partiers

haywoodHazy ownership of a de facto three-acre park in Waynesville has been resolved, allowing the town to remove a group of partiers who had more or less occupied a corner of the property as squatters.

Town leaders were able to track down the long-lost heir of the property located in the Chestnut Park community, tucked into the hillside across Richland Creek from Frog Level. Ninety-seven-year-old Maude Gilmore agreed to formalize a deed gifting the park land to the town.

“She has done a wonderful thing by the town of Waynesville and the citizens of Chestnut Park,” said Mayor Gavin Brown.

Brown had made it a personal mission to resolve the lingering issue. Although the property has been maintained by the town as a park for decades, there was no formal record of ownership being granted to the town in property deed books. 

Without clear title, the town was powerless to arrest squatters on the property for trespassing. It had become a party headquarters for a rough crowd known for its run-ins with the law — much to the chagrin of surrounding neighbors. Police have responded to calls to Chestnut Park more than 165 times in the past 18 months alone, according to police dispatch records.

Brown helped track down the lone surviving heir to the property living in Asheville, and Town Manager Marcy Onieal paid Gilmore a visit with a positive outcome.

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“I’m pleased to report to you that I have a signed deed in hand from Ms. Maude Gilmer for the Chestnut Park property turning ownership over to the Town of Waynesville,” Onieal informed town board members last week. “We should be able to move forward more aggressively in dealing with some of the other challenges plaguing that neighborhood.”

In addition to tackling the rowdy trespassers at the park, the town can now more formally include the neighborhood pocket-park in its recreation inventory.

“Now that we have clear ownership of the park we can include it in our recreation master plan as a public amenity. It will improve the community. It is really a great story,” Brown said.

For more, see a past article at www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/16314-waynesville-handcuffed-from-running-off-carousing-squatters-occupying-town-park.

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