Breaking News
More () »

After homeowner blocks creek access to park visitors, county seeks 'adverse possession'

For 35 years, the public accessed Bear Creek in Kittredge through a plot of land next to a community park. A woman cut off creek access, claiming the land is hers.

KITTREDGE, Colo. — Neighbors in this quaint community are divided over a property dispute between Jefferson County and a homeowner who blocked access to a creek she claims runs through her private property.

Visitors to Kittredge Community Park have had access to Bear Creek for 35 years through a plot of land next to the park; however, a new neighbor blocked creek access in April after heated exchanges with some visitors.

Shortly after Taralyn Romero roped off the land, Jefferson County filed a lawsuit against Romero and her fiancé to obtain the land through “adverse possession” or through an injunction.

“When I first started exercising private property rights, it was really just about liability," Taralyn Romero said in an interview with 9NEWS. "I had some basic signs up to let them know that they were on private land.

“I felt disrespected. And I felt that the land was being disrespected,” she said, adding that large crowds have been digging on the land and leaving behind human feces, trash and other debris.

Romero said when she bought the property in March 2021, she didn't know that the land was historically and traditionally used by the public for access to Bear Creek.

“I had a lot of empathy for that," she said. "And I tried really, really hard to compromise and to share and to be reasonable.”

Romero provided 9NEWS with old maps and surveys showing her plot of land extends to the north side of the creek where park visitors access the water. 

Credit: Taralyn Romero
Taralyn Romero submitted this 1920 survey map to the court showing the plot of her land includes the creek access area.

Romero’s documents have been submitted to the court as a judge takes up the question over who should rightfully own the land.

The county hopes a judge will declare the land to be part of the public park by giving the community a public easement or through adverse possession.

“Since the completion of Kittredge Park in 1986, the County has asserted ownership over the North Parcel by way of its continuous use of the land, including the area lying 'North of the Center of Bear Creek,' by making ongoing improvements to the property, maintaining the property and through the use and enjoyment of that property by the public and local neighborhood families and residents,” county attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

Part of the property fight is the disputed boundary between Romero’s land and the park. The county contends in its lawsuit that the creek should be the boundary; however, the creek has moved south over the years.

Romero argues that her surveys and maps show her plot of land hasn’t changed, despite the creek’s changing position.

The fight turns ugly

“To most members of the community, this park is the heart of Kittredge,” said Jimmy Dickson, who lives in town and moderates a community Facebook page. 

Dickson said the community Facebook page turned vitriolic as neighbors began to bicker over who was the rightful owner of the creek-access area.

“Some of my neighbors that I really respected, I’ve seen a new side to them, and it’s been frustrating to watch," Dickson said.

Dickson said he sees “both sides” of the issue, adding that the park was always designed to have creek access but that landowners should be able to exercise property rights.

Romero provided edited video clips to 9NEWS that show visitors cursing when she and her fiancé asked people to leave the creek access area. She said her family has received threats online, which compelled her to close off the creek area.

“They were doing things that I found greatly unacceptable," she said. "And so closing it off was really to protect my family and I."

Credit: Jefferson County
An image from a lawsuit filed by Jefferson County against homeowner Taralyn Romero who cut off access to bear creek.

While she may be the most unwelcome neighbor in Kittredge, Romero has been able to leverage a large and sympathetic following on her TikTok page as she shares anecdotes of her battle with the crowds and local government.

“They’ve encouraged me to keep fighting for my property rights,” she said.

Dickson said some of Romero’s social media followers have sent nasty messages to people in Kittredge.

“We’ve been getting a lot of social media trolls that have not only threatened the community but threatened moderators and individuals in the community,” he said.

The author of this article asked Romero why she continues to fight for the land.

“I am fighting for the right to be able to say ‘no’ on our private land when you want to say ‘no,’ and I think that’s very important as an American and as a woman,” Romero said.

It is unknown when a judge will make a decision on the property.

If you have any information about this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact jeremy@9news.com

Other 9NEWS stories by Jeremy Jojola:

RELATED: Denver’s secret lost and found warehouse: From Rolexes to electronics, your loss is the city’s gain

RELATED: Casa Bonita renovation: Photos, documents reveal $12 million plans



Before You Leave, Check This Out