Google Maps Mistakes N.J. House for State Park

Home owners are besieged by "belligerent" visitors

ByABC News
July 12, 2011, 4:01 PM

July 12, 2011 -- Laurie Gneiding and her husband have lived for more than 10 years in a log home at the top of a hill in Hunterdon County, N.J., surrounded by two other families. The home sits at the end of a windy, quarter-mile-long driveway, next to Round Valley State Park, whose blue waters attract swimmers, boaters and fisherman during the summer months.

"We're surrounded on three sides by woods, and the park property is basically my backyard," said Gneiding. The sounds of birds chirping fills the air during the spring and summertime. Foxes, bears, coyotes and even mountain lions have been spotted near the home.

"It's a quiet, secluded area, very family-oriented neighborhood."

Unfortunately, over the past several years their beautiful view of nature has become anything but relaxing as wayward travelers searching for the park began landing on the Gneidings' doorstep -- led there by Google Maps.

"I just want them to do their fact checking, before something happens or somebody gets hurt," said Gneiding.

Three years ago, people looking for entrance into the state park began showing up on the Gneidings' driveway, she said.

"Every once in awhile a few people would come up and say they were looking for Round Valley. So we would escort them off and show them this is private property and they would just turn around."

Over time the number grew from just a handful to now dozens each year, arriving at all hours. One Sunday morning at 6:45 a.m., a man pulled up -- with quite some trouble, Gneiding noted -- hauling a trailered boat onto the driveway.

"Most people, like in that case, have been very nice, but last year it became a crisis because we were getting so many people and those people were starting to become -- to put it politely -- indignant and belligerent," she sighed.

Gneiding says she and her neighbors posted four signs along the driveway last summer, reading "No Trespassing" and "No Trespassing, Private Road."

But the visitors just kept coming.

"Most people would just grumble a lot or are reticent to turn around, until I started carrying my phone and opening it up in front of them, like I was going to call the police."

This year, Gneiding spent $125 on an 8-foot-long orange traffic barricade, attaching several signs, including one labeled "No Park Access."

The Trouble With Visitors

She realized the root of the problem when two men in their mid-twenties showed up with bicycles attached to the roof of their car, saying they were looking to go mountain biking.

"They said they were terribly lost and literally showed me the directions on their smart phone," said Gneiding. "So I went in and looked it up on Google Maps and saw they were correct… unfortunately," she laughed.

Visitors who entered three different locations, including "Round Valley Reservoir," were instead directed to Gneiding's home.

But pinpointing the error was easier than fixing it. Gneiding said she used Google's "Report A Problem" tool to notify the company of the error. She said she received a response via e-mail on June 3 from the company saying it was working correct the directions and would notify her when it was complete.

However, after weeks of no response, Gneiding says she and her husband have tried, with no success, to speak to someone from the company directly on various occasions.

A Google spokeswoman told ABC News that the Google's "product team is aware of the needed correction and working to implement it."

However, the company could not offer any time frame for when the map would be updated.

"We recognize that there may be occasional inaccuracies and appreciate the feedback we get about how to improve our tools," said Deanna Yick. "We strive to review these requests and make appropriate changes as quickly as possible."

In the meantime, the Gneidings and their neighbors are left to fend for themselves.