A dispute over a vacant lot known in Widefield as Sertoma Park has gotten ugly. First, neighbors led by Joe Berkhoff confronted a developer, Ron Hall, over his plan to build a assisted living center on the property.
Berkhoff led a loud campaign to rally neighbors to oppose Hall. Berkhoff challenged the way the property was sold and has vigorously demanded it remain open space. In the process, he has personally attacked Hall, who became angry and lashed back.
On April 24, 2008, Hall had crews place four concrete barriers in front of the garage doors of 70-year-old Anna Maria Stevens, who is Berkhoff’s aunt. Stevens and her late husband bought their home in 1970. It backs up to the vacant lot and for all those years they drove across the lot to access their backyard.
In 2000, they built a garage with doors facing the lot, even though the original plans filed with the county showed the doors on the other side, with access from the front of their house, not the back. They have used the vacant lot as a driveway ever since.
Hall decided to punish Berkhoff and his family for opposing his plan by enforcing his property rights and barricading Stevens’ garage. Here are photos taken by Stevens’ son, Bill Stevens, as the barricades were put in place. When the four barricades were moved, Hall’s crews came back and placed a total of 16 in front of the garage doors.
Below, Anna Maria Stevens stands amid the 16 concrete barricades. She can no longer access her garage. And a truck and van parked in her backyard are stuck behind the barricades.
Here are some maps of the park and the area:
Here is the original architect’s drawing of his assisted living center project. Since this drawing was created, he has modified the building to eliminate the second floor so neighbors’ views are not blocked. He also relocated parking to move it closer to the center of the complex, away from neighbors’ yards. And he has reduced the number of units in a concession to neighbors’ concerns.
Also, Hall agreed to remove the barricades to restore Stevens’ access. He promised to have crews move the barricades on Monday, June 9. But he said they may return if the attacks on him from Stevens’ relatives resume.