Neighborhoods raise concerns about Willmore Park following body found in lake

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - As police continue to investigate an incident in which a body was recovered from a lake in Willmore Park, some neighbors have concerns about issues with safety, vagrancy and trash in the area.

The Boulevard Heights Neighborhood Association has recently posted about ongoing problems in the park, noting a large number of needles, tents, clothing, and other signs of late-night activity there.

“This is NOT acceptable! Please be careful when using the various amenities the park has to offer,” read one post.

During the day on Thursday the park seemed serene and beautiful. Coral Frederick, who lives nearby, walks the trails several times a week. She said she has always felt safe in the park during the day, but she and her neighbors have suspected that crimes take place along the park, and River Des Peres, at night.

“Some of us hear gunshots at night now, squealing tires like they’ve been drag racing. Sometimes after a night like that we see more trash,” she said.

Still, she was surprised to hear a body had been found in one of the ponds.

“I’m just in total shock,” Frederick said.

Other park regulars like David Griffin said they had noticed an increase in what they described as vagrant activity, though Griffin said he believed the problem was an area-wide issue and not confined to the park.

“Occasionally you might see something you shouldn’t,” he said.

Willmore Park has recently drawn more attention from community groups, too. Aaron Dohogne recently helped form the Friends of Willmore Park group, which met for a trash pickup on Thursday evening.

“It has a lot of potential, a lot of trees, a lot of nature life,” Dohogne said. “I think whenever you keep a place clean it makes it feel more welcoming. It makes you feel like someone is there taking care of the park or that the people that are going there are not littering.”

St. Louis Police told FirstAlert4 they had responded to 17 calls for service at Willmore Park so far in 2023.