FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The field behind Leslie Cavanaugh’s house used to be green space: an empty field separating her neighborhood from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Love’s Travel Stop. The intersection at 35W and Garden Acres in south Fort Worth attracts 18-wheelers at all hours, and regular traffic frequently comes to a stop as the big rigs maneuver the streets. None of it bothered Cavanaugh and her neighbors until the truckers began using the field for parking. “This is my backyard. This is not a parking lot – this is not zoned for that. This is illegal,” said Cavanaugh.
She says the problem started a few months ago when the city began widening Garden Acres Drive. The fence around the property came down and construction equipment was left on the land. Cavanaugh says truckers took advantage, pulling onto the field whenever the lot at Love’s became full. “The orange cones were there and I actually witnessed a driver stop his truck, got out, moved the cones out of the way and got back in his truck and came in and parked,” said Jewel Thomas who lives next door to Cavanaugh.
Thomas said this has been happening for months. “This doesn’t make any sense for you to park this close and disturb somebody,” she said. “Literally, I can reach my hand over [my fence] and touch them.” She says the trucks idle all night. “When it’s time to go to sleep, it’s time to go to sleep. And I can’t with all that noise.”
Neighbors say they’ve seen women who appear to be prostitutes visiting the drivers. “They tap on the window and the men let them in,” said Thomas. “They come out… go and tap on the next window.”
Thomas says at first they tried to ignore it. “I tried to not let it bother me,” she said. “When it started getting too many, I’m like ‘this is ridiculous.'” Thomas’s husband warned the drivers they were trespassing, and some left after Thomas began taking photos. But the problem persisted.
The neighbors said they complained to Love’s and their neighborhood police officer but say nothing changed. “I’ve called the police about two, three times. Nobody ever came out.” Thomas says she also reached out to the city’s code enforcement department, but wasn’t satisfied with the response. “At their own discretion, I’m going to put it that way,” she said. “You helping us when it’s your convenience to come to help us. That’s not what we need.” That’s when Cavanaugh called the Consumer Justice tip line.
The field sits between a construction supplies business and a church; each entity owns part of the land. A manager at the business says they’ve put up signs and called police, but it hasn’t worked. He recently installed large metal barriers to keep the trucks off his part of the land; the drivers instead used the portion owned by the church.
The church told Consumer Justice it has had issues with the trucks for years. The church plans to put the fence back up but is waiting on the city to finish the construction project. A spokesperson for Love’s says workers have repeatedly warned truckers not to park in the lot.
A spokesman for the Fort Worth Police Department said they had no record of calls from that area. Two nights after Consumer Justice contacted Fort Worth Police, the trucks showed up once more. Neighbors called the police non-emergency line around 8pm. A FWPD spokesman said officers arrived around 12:15 a.m. and issued parking citations to four truck drivers. The church says its maintenance workers found trucks in the lot later that morning and told them they were trespassing on private property.
Consumer Justice also reached out to Jungus Jordan, the Fort Worth city council person whose district covers the intersection. He said he’d been in touch with the neighborhood police officer and there were plans to increase overnight patrols in the area. Jordan encouraged neighbors to keep up their efforts. “Call 911 and we’ll respond and issue citations and make sure there are no illegal activities other than the parking issue… and parking there is illegal so we’ll enforce it to the fullest extent of the law.”
Cavanaugh says she and her neighbors deserve to live in peace. “I’m a taxpayer… I’m a citizen. I work hard for what I have.”
Full statement from Love’s:
“Love’s Travel Stops is aware of the situation and has taken steps to limit customer parking on the city property. Our store managers put up signs and partnered with construction crews to add more barriers to the property. We are asking our customers to park at other safe locations in the area while the construction is ongoing.”