Commissioners defer action on proposal to keep trespassers out of ‘felon’s playground’ at Tradinghouse

Kevin Kuretsch is asking the County for help stopping who he says are trouble-making...
Kevin Kuretsch is asking the County for help stopping who he says are trouble-making trespassers who gain access to Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir via a private road.(PHOTOS: Brad Vaughn for KWTX)
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 4:41 PM CDT
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HALLSBURG, Texas (KWTX) - Kevin Kuretsch has waited six years to get some help from county officials about trouble-making trespassers who use a private road adjacent to his property to gain access to Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir.

He will have to wait a bit longer after McLennan County commissioners deferred action Tuesday on the county’s proposal to install a guardrail on county property between Kuretsh’s land and the lake shoreline in an effort block access to what Kuretsch calls the “felons’ playground.”

Kuretsch used the first three minutes of the public comment section of the commissioners’ meeting to ask the county to abandon the right-of-way Luminant Energy gave the county when it demolished the old electric power plant on the lake and to give or sell the 1.3 acre area to him.

Kuretsch owns about two acres along Redfish Lane, a private road that dead-ends into Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir near Hallsburg in eastern McLennan County. The county owns the land between his property and the lake.

Kuretsch, 62, a real estate investor, grew up swimming, fishing and boating on the lake and said his dad worked 41 years for the former Texas Power & Light plant on the lake, which later was owned by Luminant. His dream has been to own land on the lake and to build a retirement home there.

Kevin Kuretsch
Kevin Kuretsch(Brad Vaughn for KWTX)

However, he has complained for years to county officials that his dream retirement location has been spoiled by partiers, drug abusers and armed convicted felons, who drive down the private road to gain access to the county-owned shoreline.

Commissioners acknowledged Tuesday that the private nature of the roadway leading to the lake complicates the issue. Precinct 4 Commissioner Ben Perry and County Judge Scott Felton boiled it down to a civil matter between Kuretsch and his three neighbors who live on the other side of Redfish Lane.

They said if commissioners gave or sold the land to Kuretsch, who only owns to the middle of the private road on his property, people could still gain access to the lake by driving on the half of the road owned by his neighbors.

Kuretsch has offered to pay for surveys, an 8-foot fence, lighting, signage, security cameras, a gate and locks, which he said would alleviate the problem at no county expense.

Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir
Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir(Brad Vaughn for KWTX)

He told commissioners that the guardrail the county is proposing will only encourage trespassers to park on his property, hop the barrier and walk down to the lakeshore.

“The guardrail you are discussing this morning will not protect me from harm,” Kuretsch said. “Convicted felons and the like will be parking on my property with their drugs, alcohol and violence. This is a deadly recipe. Please abandon this 1.3 acre tract of land before someone gets severely injured or killed.”

After Kuretsch bought the land, he said he cleaned up a large pile of construction debris, mowed the waist-high weeds and removed more than 50 tires from the water. He said trespassers have vandalized a metal building on his property and riddled it with bullets.

“People drive down my private road and then drive across my private property to the abandoned county lane to the shoreline,” Kuretsch said. “I have maintained this abandoned property for six years, where an attempted murder took place in 2011. The same place where somebody tried to run over me with a truck on Nov. 2, 2021. In August, a vehicle was pulled from the lake and my friend, James Pavelka, and myself pulled out 54 tires from the lake bed. I must be armed and with a witness when I am on my property. The sheriff’s office has done nothing to help me in six years, and (Sheriff) Parnell McNamara hasn’t returned my phone calls.”

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara(Rissa Shaw for KWTX)

McNamara, who attended Tuesday’s discussion, previously told KWTX that the area off Redfish Lane “has been a really bad area for a lot of years now.”

He said his department has answered every call for service from the area and said his deputies have gone “above and beyond trying to help Mr. Kuretsch.”

“Sometimes people don’t like the outcome, but we do everything we can and will continue to do so,” McNamara said.

Felton, who owns property on the other side of the lake, said he has heard from a number of other property owners on the lake who are in favor of keeping the status quo.

Map of Tradinghouse reservoir in eastern McLennan County
Map of Tradinghouse reservoir in eastern McLennan County(KWTX)

The county judge said TP&L, and later Luminant, did not give them permission to make improvements to their properties within the right-of-way, such as retaining walls, fishing piers and boat docks.

However, the power company never enforced its property rights and the improvements were allowed to remain, he said.

Commissioners discussed the situation for about 45 minutes before Precinct 2 Commissioner Pat Miller, whose precinct includes Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir and a 180-acre county park there, asked to defer the issue so she could conduct additional research on the matter.