A resident whose back yard borders the new Royal Palm Beach Commons Park complained to the Royal Palm Beach Village Council last week about weeds in a section of the park that he said is an unsightly haven for vermin and insects now infesting his property.
John Knoblock has lived on Heron Parkway since 1985. Upon completion of the park, he said, landscaping was done in the section, which included removing some trees and adding others.
However, he does not believe the land behind his house was ever seeded because no grass grew.
“What did grow was a bountiful expansion of weeds,” Knoblock said at the June 6 meeting. “Besides the weeds is an infestation of insects and rodents. I have had to have professionals come out to help control the weed problem and the insect problem, and I have even had rodents in my property, which I have never had in 20 years.”
Knoblock complimented the council and staff on the new park.
“All the other parks are beautiful and in immaculate condition, but the area of the park that is in my back yard leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “It looks like I live on a landfill rather than a community park.”
Parks & Recreation Director Lou Recchio said the 60-acre weedy area has been seeded with grass but that the growth is still too young to be treated for weeds.
Recchio noted that he and Knoblock had spoken before park construction began and that he had an issue when it was being maintained by a landscape contractor who was not going close enough to the edge of the property line.
“They took care of it,” Recchio said. “After that we met with a number of the residents about a month or so ago about the perimeter, and we assured them that they had to give us some time. We weren’t able to cut it at the time, but to give us six months and we would get it all under control.”
Recchio added that he and Public Works Director Paul Webster are working together to make sure the area comes under a regular maintenance schedule.
Knoblock said the weeds need to be removed. “It doesn’t just require trimming,” he said. “It requires proper landscaping. You have to get rid of the weeds. You can’t just cut them; they have to be gotten rid of.”
Village Engineer Chris Marsh said the northern section of the park that Knoblock was talking about was not in the scope of the park project. “What we have done is seeded the disturbed areas,” Marsh said. “It is irrigated. Clearly, there are weeds. The plan moving forward would be potentially to over-seed that area, and as new grass moves in, we can have a treatment program for the weeds.”
Mayor Matty Mattioli asked about scraping and sodding, and Marsh said that would be costly, estimating $200,000.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said that of the 160-acre site, 52 acres have been developed into the park.
“The rest of it is the roadway and other sections, and what we’ve chosen to do in those sections, which is the unbuilt golf course, is to irrigate it, and we do have an irrigation system out there,” Liggins said. “We just put the bahia down a month ago, so we’re waiting for that to grow in, and then we can herbicide the weeds.”
Liggins added that the area has had weeds for several years. “While the contractor had it under contract, he did not put seed out there. There have been weeds, and all the residents around that park have been very patient with us,” he said. “We just took over maintenance of the park and are transitioning from the weeds to the bahia.”
Marsh explained that the bahia is the same planting as the rest of the park except for the Great Lawn.
Knoblock said he is tired of looking at a field of 4-foot weeds, and Liggins said the village would take care of that immediately.
“We did assume maintenance of that, and we’re mowing it with one of our larger tractors,” he said. “We will start maintaining it on a regular basis. We’re going to continue to seed and get the grass growing, and then kill the weeds over time.”