PALM BAY, Fla. — Palm Bay Police are ramping up enforcement in a large portion of the city known as the Compound. And they have a message for those who are causing problems on public property.
What You Need To Know
- Palm Bay Police stepping up efforts in the "Compound"
- Nearby residents say people have caused trouble in the area
- Police will be trying to make the area safer
"I've seen it all, I've seen it all," said Bill Joshnik, who said living on the edge of Palm Bay's "Compound" for 14 years hasn't always been peaceful.
"The majority of the people who come out here are good, but you have that small percentage that it's search and destroy," he said.
On weekends, Joshnik sees what he calls a “caravan”' of ATVs, dirt bikes and trucks converge on the 2,700 acres, which was never developed when it's owners went bankrupt back in 1991.
For 30 years the area has sat empty, except for 200 miles of roadway. Palm Bay only owns 235 acres of the property. And over three decades, locals, and later people from across the state, have illegally used the area for recreation.
But Joshnik said it's the bad stuff happening here is the issue.
"This area has really taken it on the chin," Joshnik said. "They've started fires here, garbage is all over the place. Gunshots.”
“I had to quit walking my dog on the weekend because I didn't want to get shot," he said.
"We know that there are shootings out there that we want to eliminate," said Lt. Jeff Spears of the Palm Bay Police Department.
Palm Bay PD is stepping up efforts to make the area safer, first by enforcing traffic laws on the roadways. They are targeting ATV's, speeders and aggressive driving, and sending a message the area isn't zoned as a recreational area open to the public.
"The Compound as it's known isn't shutdown, as we've heard some people say," Lt. Spears said. "It still has rights to the public and the landowners that use it, but we want people to comply with us. We want people to be safe."
Joshnik said the enforcement is a start, and is cautiously optimistic it will work.
"Their heart is in the right place," he said.
Over the long holiday weekend police handed out 10 citations in that area, most of them for speeding.