Jeffrey M. Patterson is convinced that a strip of land where an 8-foot-high fence runs along the neighborhood playground is part of his property at 249-251 N. Hamilton St.
The city, however, is just as convinced that the land is part of the playground and thus is city property.
Its absolutely my property, Mr. Patterson said Monday.
The property dispute came up after a recent survey determined that the playground lot extends 4 feet beyond the fence and includes about 440 square feet of land that Mr. Patterson has maintained for about 20 years and his in-laws, Ann and Everett Lafex, maintained for more than 25 years before that.
He said he simply wanted to purchase the small strip but was told by the city that he cannot because it is considered parkland. As such, the city would be required to get state lawmakers to sponsor a bill for the property sale and get approval from the state Legislature.
The city, which had the survey done, did not think it was worth all of that, since it initially had requested a minimal price of $100 from Mr. Patterson, according to a memo to the Watertown City Council from City Manager Sharon A. Addison.
So now Mr. Patterson plans to conduct his own survey of his property. He said he does not know what he will do if its not his land.
Until the early 1960s, Hamilton Street School was on the site of the playground and was owned by the city school district. The school was demolished about five years before Mr. Pattersons in-laws purchased their duplex, and the lot was subsequently turned over to the city.
City officials dont know how for so many years the city mistakenly believed the strip of land belonged to Mr. Patterson. And Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said last week that the status quo may be the best solution and Mr. Patterson can continue to maintain the property.