Gate may be added to Old Cahawba Park

Published 6:56 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Dallas County Commission approved a resolution Monday to add a gate to the entrance at Old Cahawba Historical Park. The hope is that the gate would stop vandalism at the park from happening overnight.

“We do have a problem at night with vandalism,” said park site director Linda Derry. “We have night watchmen, but they get awfully tired getting up and chasing people around.”

Park officials believe having a gate locked at night will help reduce the issue. However, they can’t move forward with assembling the gate because there are still privately owned lots accessed through the park entrance road.

Derry said there are six remaining lots and a majority of the families live out of town. In the resolution, the park will send a 30-day notice to the landowners. As long as the landowners don’t have any conflicts about the gate, then the gate will be constructed after the notice period.

Derry said the lots aren’t residential, but the park must still consider their possible access at night.

“As long as they’re still there, we have to get their permission, and we would give them a key,” Derry said.

“We hope they’ll see it as protection for their property also.”

In early March, one of the park’s buildings had seven windows and two doors damaged by vandals. Juveniles were suspected in the case.

Derry said the park once had a gate that was locked at night after vandalism during the early 60s.

“Someone went out there at night with a sledgehammer and broke up all the tombstones and the county put up a gate that we locked up at night,” she said.

A story in the June 15, 1960, edition of the Times-Journal said the burial ground for slaves and their descendants on Oak Street was damaged.

Derry said the park recently received a grant to use toward restoring the gravestones that were destroyed nearly 56 years ago.