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For nearby residents, Falling Rock Park is like a summer radio megahit — suddenly immensely popular, and just as suddenly, you can’t stand to hear it.
The old quarry in La Grange has become a warm weather hot spot, drawing thousands of weekend visitors from surrounding counties.
“It’s been horrible for residents,” said Linda Bottoroff, who lives on Fendley Mill Road near the quarry.
Bottoroff said there’s a lot of litter and loud music that are a nuisance to quarry neighbors, but that’s not the worst of it.
Increased drunken driving and several car crashes have Bottoroff worried about safety.
Bottoroff is not alone.
Oldham County Police have stepped up patrols in the area, especially on weekends — including a crackdown Saturday in which police issued at least a dozen citations.
Prior to the weekend, OCPD had already made 12 DUI arrests since the quarry opened for the season in late May. There were also nine arrests for alcohol intoxication.
Another 20 people had received citations for drinking in a public place and at least 10 charges of possession of alcohol by a minor.
A joint force of about eight Oldham County and La Grange police officers arrived at the quarry Saturday afternoon, checking with nearly all attendees to see if they were drinking.
OCPD Chief Greg Smith said he thinks increased patrols are already working — the crowd seemed smaller and less rowdy, he said.
They even brought Reggie, the department’s K-9, to sniff for drugs.
When the police arrived on Saturday, quarry revelers started leaving — so police took to the streets. They checked for minor traffic offenses, but primarily watched for drunk drivers.
Smith said police will continue patrolling the quarry throughout the summer.
On Friday, county maintenance personnel installed two 4-foot by 8-foot signs near the quarry entrance that say “no alcohol allowed.”
But Bottoroff is also worried about the sharp curve on Fendley Mill Road.
“There’s no signage in the curve,” she said.
There have been four wrecks in the area in recent weeks, according to OCPD spokesperson Sarah King.
Police have confirmed the quarry may have played a minor role in a head-on motorcycle crash June 13 that left a Westport man critically injured.
Louisville resident Nicholas Snoddy, 23, was driving a car that struck Charley Klosterman’s motorcycle on Ky. 53.
Police believe Snoddy, who faces 16 charges including DUI – had been at the quarry earlier in the day.
Judge-Executive David Voegele spoke about the quarry during a fiscal court meeting June 19, and the quarry’s impact on police patrols in the area.
“Police have taken aggressive enforcement actions to (...) protect the residents of Oldham County from any illegal liquor activity or intoxicated driving,” he said.
Voegele said local law enforcement agencies are “alert and keen on making sure everyone is acting appropriately and following the law.”
He emphasized that safety is the county government’s primary objective.
“Alcohol and swimming don’t mix,” he said. “(It’s) fine as long as it’s safe and appropriate fun and doesn’t involve alcohol,” he said.
Owner Joe Clark has posted repeatedly to the park’s Facebook page — his primary method of public communication for the park — that alcohol is not allowed.
The page has more than 1,300 “likes.”
On June 15, Clark posted, “By order of Oldham County Police, no alcohol allowed!”
He later added a comment that underage drinking would not be tolerated and would be reported to police.
Clark told The Oldham Era in May the quarry’s rising popularity was forcing additional restrictions.
He said he didn’t have a problem with “a couple sharing a bottle of wine,” but that too many people are going too far.
“It only takes a few idiots to ruin it for the responsible ones,” he posted on Facebook.
He has also used Facebook to remind visitors to be responsible and respectful, including obeying the speed limit and not littering.
Voegele said Clark has been completely supportive of the increased police patrols and signage.
He also said Clark’s property is being used appropriately under county planning and zoning regulations. “Recreational use” is permitted on agriculture-zoned property.
Officials have scheduled a public meeting to discuss enforcement at the quarry at 7 p.m. today (Thursday) at the fiscal court building. The meeting is primarily for residents who live near the quarry, but anyone interested is welcome to attend.
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