Residents wary of alligators lurking near community playground

TEXAS CITY, Texas – Residents at a Texas City subdivision are wary of alligators in their neighborhood retention pond, which is located right next to a playground.

VIDEO: Gators near park in Texas City

Many neighbors at the Pearlbrook by Castle Communities subdivision will stop and stare into the waters of their subdivision's pond -- looking for two infamous alligators who have apparently made themselves at home there for at least a couple of weeks, according to residents.

"Every morning [my dog and I] walk around the park here," said resident Steven Costa. "And I always see [the alligator]. This morning I saw him around the little hole there."

"We had a manager at the model home come out and actually tell us that there was an alligator in the pond," said resident Sarah Teague who lives directly across from the spot where one of the alligators was spotted by residents.

"It makes me really nervous because we have three dogs -- two of them are Labradors and really love the water, and we really don't want them to run out," Teague said.

Texas Parks and Wildlife's alligator specialist said American alligators are common in southeast Texas and along the coastal cities. During spring and summer, alligators tend to move around looking for food.

"Oh my God -- that's all I can think of," said resident Indy Brown. "I'm just thinking, eventually it's going to get hungry ... and when they get hungry, they're going to come out of the water."

However, Brown's biggest concern is that the pond where the alligators have been lurking is right next to their subdivision's playground.

"I wouldn't come. It's not a safe neighborhood playground anymore," Brown said.

Several neighbors are frustrated.

"They need to get them out," said resident Rick Jackson.

Representatives from Castlerock Communities told KPRC that they had ordered signs to warn people of the alligators in the pond.

"They said it's their natural habitat and they just get to stay there until they move on their own," Teague said.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said alligators are naturally afraid of people unless you feed them -- then alligators start to associate food with humans and lose their fear of them, which could then be dangerous, said officials. Feeding alligators is illegal in the state of Texas.

Officials said if you see an alligator, stay a good distance away as alligators have the ability to run 35 miles per hour from the water onto land. They also said don't agitate the alligators and if you hear hissing, you're way too close.

Subdivision representatives told KPRC that they had ordered signs to post around the pond, warning people of the alligators.

"They said they're trying to get some signs to beware of alligators," Jackson said.

However, if an alligator is deemed a "nuisance," officials said only the HOA president can give them a call, and their limited crew of licensed professionals will come out and remove the alligators. Many of those alligators, deemed "nuisances" are killed, said an official.

KPRC reached out to the HOA at the subdivision and has yet to hear back.

For now, neighbors are having to settle.

"We've just sort of agreed that it's there. There's some joke Facebook post about what we should name it," Jackson said.

They hope the alligators find another place to go.

"There's a lot of people that play here and people that walk their dogs and I don't want to see them being taken away from them," Jackson said.

Parks and Wildlife officials say leave the alligators alone. They said just wait a couple weeks, and the alligators should be gone. They said it is very unlikely for alligators to find a home in a retention pond.

More information from Texas Parks & Wildlife can be found here.