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Neighbors tell council Wilson Motel is attracting drugs, crime, prostitution

North Third Street resident Thomas Wheatley describes how incidents of crime have increased in the area. He and other residents spoke at Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council meeting, placing the blame on the transient population of the Wilson Motel.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 — Residents of North Third and North Fourth streets sounded off at Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council meeting about what they see as an upward trend in crime, drug dealing and even prostitution they’re seeing in their neighborhood.

The residents pointed to one property as the primary source of the problems — the Wilson Motel property at the corner of North Third Street and Barber Avenue.

PEGGY WATERS

The residents told the council of the rising number of crimes they have observed or been the victims of in the past few years, and they believe they are connected to those who stay at the Wilson Motel.

Thomas and Margaret Wheatley live on North Third Street next to the motel, and they shared some of the problems they have witnessed.

“This meeting couldn’t last long enough for me to tell you the laundry list of things we’ve experienced at our house over the last several years,” Wheatley told the council. “We’ve been there 30 years, but in the last 3 or 4 years its progressively gotten worse.”

Wheatley said he’s watched drug deals go down, watched prostitutes come and go through the hedge behind his house, and seen “unspeakable things in the alley and sex acts that normal human beings do not do in public.”

They deal with trash blowing into their yard, which includes condoms and needles.

 
 
One day last fall, Wheatley said he and his wife returned home to find their driveway cluttered with tables and chairs, their trees covered with tinsel. Apparently, people taken over his driveway while they were gone and thrown a party.

“We’re afraid to leave our property overnight,” Wheatley said. “We don’t get to travel like we used to.”

JENNIFER MASON

Wheatley said he understood that his property has restrictions due to its location in the city’s historic zoning district. “But yet this nuisance is allowed to stay there,” he said of the motel.

North Fourth Street resident Peggy Waters spoke of concern for her children’s safety as crime in the area increases.

On Dec. 30, 2017, Waters said a woman tried to break in to her home while she and her children were there. She watched as the same woman attempted to enter another nearby home.

She said she and her neighbors have had packages stolen from front porches, and thefts from their cars and garages. They find people they don’t know walking through the neighborhood who appear high on alcohol or some other substances.

“I’m seeing way too many incidents happen on our side of town,” she said. “I’ve waited for something to be done, but I’m tired of waiting.”

Waters’ neighbor, Jennifer Mason, has been victim of the crimes in the area, and she had a camera and security system installed to protect her home.

Bardstown Police Chief Kim Kraeszig explains the efforts the Bardstown Police Department has taken to reduce crime in the area of the Wilson Motel.

“Its a shame that in this area of town we’re worried about going outside after dark,” she said. “Nobody should have to live like this.”

WHO OWNS WILSON MOTEL? The Nelson County PVA records list MSUE, LLC, a for-profit limited-liability corporation as one of the owners of the property. The property has a net taxable value of $358,500 for 2018.

The Secretary of State’s Office records list Margaret Sue Masters and Col. Michael Masters, both of Bardstown, as the sole officers of MSUE, LLC.

Mayor Dick Heaton said the property owners have been responsive to the city’s requests to address property maintenance issues.

LAW ENFORCEMENT. Bardstown Police Chief Kim Kraeszig said the city police department has turned its focus on the area to reduce criminal activity. She and her department have spent time with extra patrols and surveillance of the motel.

Kraeszig said she didn’t think it is accurate to look at the Wilson Motel as only source of the area’s increase in crime.

“We’ve had car break-ins in the area, and its unfair to say its coming from the motel,” she said. “We have car break-ins throughout the city.”

Kraeszig offered to meet with the neighborhood residents and pledged to work to help them feel safer in their neighborhood.

Mayor Dick Heaton listens to residents at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

HALFWAY HOUSE? Residents said they had heard rumors the motel was serving as a halfway house. City Attorney Tim Butler told the residents he was unaware of any changes to the property’s zoning that would allow such a use.

The motel may have tenants who have been in jail, but they can be found in any apartment complex, he said. If the motel is part of an official halfway house program that may be an issue, he told residents.

Mayor Heaton assured the residents that efforts will continue to address the issues.

“We’re not happy with the situation either, and it is a priority for us in terms of code enforcement and law enforcement,” Heaton said. “We’ve heard you loud and clear.”

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