Some neighbors in Fort Worth say people are afraid to use a new park that cost $3.5 million because of wildlife sightings. From rattlesnakes to rats and mice, neighbors say they've seen it all at Chisholm Trail Park.
The critters are attracted by tall grasses that cover much of the park. The city is growing them out on purpose to reinstate native grasslands that are getting swallowed up by so much new development in the far southwest Fort Worth area.
The sounds of nature are competing with the constant hum of construction.
"I have a huge sympathy for that," neighbor Ron Bowman said.
Bowman can see the need for land devoted to nature. But he says a playground shouldn't be anywhere near it.
"That's all well and good, except when you have snakes in the play area, you have snakes in the picnic area, mice and rats," Bowman said.
The city knows about the complaints and put up a couple of signs warning of rattlesnake sightings. But some neighbors say it's not nearly enough.
NBC 5 took a walk down where the wild things are. There were only grasshoppers, caterpillars and a skittering spider visible on Thursday afternoon. But there weren't many people out and about, either.
"You don't see an awful lot of usage out here and you used to," Bowman said.
He also thinks the snake warning signs are too small and easy to miss. Jimmy Hogue did at first.
"It's kid friendly right here, but why wouldn't they take care of the area around here to keep the kids safe?" Hogue said.
He packed up his family and headed to another park when he learned of the snake sightings.
And Bowman thinks that's a waste, when the city invested $3.5 million in the park overall. It includes soccer fields and an in-ground skate park.
"It's a shame, because it's a beautiful area," Bowman said. "I can understand the need for a natural area, well then don't develop it. Don't develop it and leave it as a safety concern where somebody's going to get bit, hurt, scared. It's not practical to use the property. "
The city pointed out that they do mow a six-foot buffer along the park's two miles of trails.
They're also working with the Fort Worth Nature Center on long-term plans for more interactive signage to point out some of the plants and wildlife that park visitors may come across.