A village resident stood before council Tuesday, in hopes of getting stricter rules for Chase’s nightlife scene.
On March 5, Mary Porter asked council to consider a number of changes to local parks which, she believes, would help reduce some of the ongoing vandalism in the area, particularly in the parks.
One of those changes is implementing a curfew.
Porter suggests that years ago, the village would ring the fire bell each night at 10:30 p.m, which would let youth know they were to get off the streets. It would be followed up with police patrolling to make sure this was the case, she explains.
“If they were found on the street they were put in jail until their parents came to get them,” says Porter.
Coun. Rick Berrigan did not agree with the method and could not see it working in Chase.
“You will never be able to get a regulated curfew anywhere, ever again,” he says, suggesting that if it is a stronger police presence that Porter wants, she should go to the police station and request it.
Brent Chamberlain, a resident who lives directly beside one of the ‘problem’ parks, says his bedroom window faces the park, and he is a light sleeper. Despite this, he said he has very rarely had a problem with the park, pointing out that most of the noise comes from houses or other sites around the area. Chamberlain also notes that in most cases, those who are making the noise are normally not the village’s youth, but the adults.
Porter also suggested that vandalism in the Chase parks could possibly be reduced by adding more signs, pointing out that Pioneer Park does not have one.
Each of the other parks, says Porter, has a sign with guidelines and rules, which include stating the park is closed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
She also pointed out that while the park is open until 11 p.m., the bathrooms are closed at 9:30 p.m., suggesting the parks could close at the same time to avoid night traffic.
While Coun. David Lepsoe agreed that more constant and informative signage would be useful to the area, Berrigan did not agree with the philosophy behind it.
“In some respects I understand your frustration with that, but if people are out there at 2 o’clock in the morning, they don’t care what the rules are on our signs,” he says. “We can put all the guides and signs you would like up there, but if people are going to do it, they are going to do it anyway.”
Porter did not agree, stating the lack of signage in the area will provide excuses.
“When the police come [the youth] are going to be like ‘oh I didn’t know the park was closed at 9 p.m., there’s no sign,’” says Porter.
There have been signs up, reminded Berrigan, and police have been going around and telling youth for years that curfew is at 11 p.m.
Porter says she is worried that if nothing is changed, the new tennis court proposal will meet the same fate as its predecessor. She described how when she moved to Chase in 1978 the tennis court was in pristine condition and was frequently used. However, she says, vandalism in the last 30-plus years has resulted in the tennis court looking like the simple concrete slab it is today. If nothing is done, said Porter, investing money in it would be a waste of money.
“You are going to spend a big pile of money and it is going to be the same thing, the same scenario and a waste of money… What is the point?” asked Porter. “You may as well take all that money and bring it up to the landfill.”
She suggested that, at the very least, the nets and anything else breakable should be removed each night.
“I totally understand what you are saying,” agreed Berrigan, “but we can easily take all the parks away and not allow any kids in the community to do anything. Is that what you would like to see done?”
Joni Heinrich, chief administrative officer, says parks bylaws have not been reviewed in some time and this would provide an opportunity to do so.
She said the village is hoping to make room for signage in the next budget, and if so, signs could be made consistent throughout the parks.