Palm Beach Town Council OKs closing Lake Trail, two parks overnight

·2 min read
A cyclist rides along the Lake Trail in April. A new law will close the trail to most residents and visitors from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
A cyclist rides along the Lake Trail in April. A new law will close the trail to most residents and visitors from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

The Town Council on Tuesday gave final approval to an ordinance that closes Bradley Park, Lake Drive Park and the Lake Trail to most Palm Beach residents and visitors between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Deeded property owners along the Lake Trail will be exempt from the new rules — which take immediate effect — as are Town Marina customers accessing the marina docks, and town staff or those working on their behalf.

But residents and visitors who do not have deeded property along the Lake Trail or hold a special event permit for Bradley Park and Lake Drive Park will be barred from those areas during the restricted period.

The initial discussion about restricted hours focused on Lake Trail and Bradley Park, but Lake Drive Park was later added.

Echoing police concerns over late-night criminal activity at both locations, council members in June directed town staff to develop the ordinance.

The new legislation would provide the town's police department with a significant tool for detaining and investigating suspicious people in those areas, Police Chief Nicholas Caristo told the council in June.

Police have been monitoring Bradley Park and the Lake Trail more closely over the past several months after getting complaints from residents about suspicious activity, Caristo said. The 5.5-mile Lake Trail runs from South Lake Drive near Peruvian Avenue to just north of the Sailfish Club.

Many of the town’s burglaries and thefts over the years have been associated with culprits traveling the Lake Trail late at night in an attempt to hide their activities from police, he added, and Bradley Park serves as a convenient hub and access point for that type of activity.

Parking is free nearby, and there are few current restrictions in place to prevent certain types of criminal behavior, Caristo told council members.

Town Manager Kirk Blouin previously has said the recommendation for the new law was made to the council in the interest of being proactive, not because there has been a spike in crime in those areas.

"There's no precipitant other than just an analysis of some complaints in the area," he said. "If there's a hotbed of crime, it's generally just off the bridges. But there's no concerning crime trend at the moment other than we think it's good policy."

Jodie Wagner is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at jwagner@pbdailynews.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Palm Beach closes Lake Trail, two parks overnight to most residents, visitors