Mayor Stephen Allegri didn't mince words Tuesday, Sept. 2, when reporting the latest case of vandalism at the city's Kiddie Park.
"This may not be politically correct, but the people who did this are nothing but trash," he said. "It's disgusting."
Allegri then described what was found in recently renovated bathrooms at the park: human feces smeared on sinks and on the wall; "wannabe" gang graffiti; and evidence of several fires set on the floor, in trash cans and on paper towel dispensers.
Noting that the improvements at the park had cost nearly $50,000, he said, "The taxpayers deserve better than this" and he asked the council for its recommendations in dealing with the problem.
"We'll do whatever it takes to try to put a stop to this," he said.
The council spent some time discussing possible steps they could take. Consensus seemed to support more strict enforcement of the city's existing 10:30 p.m. curfew for anyone age 17 and under.
Councilman Matt Campbell suggested imposing a 9 p.m. curfew at the Kiddie Park, though he added as clarification that he didn't want to suggest it include the pool area, where older kids often congregate.
The idea of putting cameras in the park was suggested, but Assistant City Administrator Gene Griffith suggested he was leery of that option.
"It comes down to parenting," he said, adding that people who see anything suspicious need to report what they see to police or city officials.
The council will review its existing curfew ordinance at its next regular meeting and discuss whether to amend it.
And Allegri said he would contact the school district to invite young people to join the council's discussion of the problem.
"That's not a sign of what kids we have in this town (are like) at all," he said. "There's a few and until they are caught they make everyone look bad."
In other business, the council approved an ordinance establishing "an administrative remedy for people who think they've been inappropriately charged a tax or fee," according to City Attorney Pat Cronin.
The ordinance allows residents 30 days to file an appeal and to specify why they think the charge is illegal, he said.
The council also debated whether to change its ordinance governing off-road vehicles. A proposal was made to create a city permit that would allow the use of ATVs on city streets for those who met the qualifications, including holding a valid drivers license and having proof of insurance.
The range of off-road vehicles available, from lawn mowers and golf carts to 'Gators, scooters and three- and four-wheel ATVs, makes regulating their use in town a challenge. The council debated the issue for some time before voting five to three against making any changes to the current ordinance.
Griffith also gave the council an update on the improvements to the water plant, which are being slowed in the design phase. He said work on the plant may start one to two months later than projected, with the start date moved back from Oct. 1 to as late as Dec. 1.
Contact Eric Crump at firstname.lastname@example.org