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Residents want tougher noise ordinance

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD In 2005, there were 10 citations issued for noise in the city of Springfield. The people who attended a meeting Wednesday night would like to see many more tickets written for a new tougher anti-noise ordinance.

Forest Park residents packed the basement conference room of the Wesleyan Church on White Street Wednesday evening to express to City Councilors their support for a new ordinance on noise and to speak to their concerns about growing incidences of vandalism in their neighborhood.

And they were looking for better ways to work with Springfield police.

"This is part of a bigger picture: an area infested with drugs and drugs bring other problems," Arelys Diaz, president of the Avalon Crime Watch group, said.

She noted that teens roam the neighborhoods without supervision and copy behavior they see elsewhere. Loud noise from cars and stereo systems, vandalism, littering and harassment are serious problems affecting the quality of life in the neighborhood, she added.

One resident said she couldn't allow her children to play in their front yard because of activities in the street. Another said that doors and windows couldn't be left open for ventilation because of the window-shaking sound generated by car stereo systems.

The meeting was the second in a series to address quality of life issues and Forest Park neighborhood activist Susan Poole said that Police Commissioner Edward Flynn is not taking resident's complaints seriously.

"Flynn has said one way or another these things aren't going to be enforced," Poole said.

The meeting of the Council's Public Safety and Health Committee was chaired by Councilor Kateri Walsh and was attended by Councilors Domenic Sarno, Bruce Stebbins and William Foley. Springfield Police Officer Christopher Hrycay, a community police officer assigned to the Forest Park neighborhood, also attended.

The residents gave testimony about the problems in their neighborhood. One noted an increase in illegal dumping and Hrycay said, "in the past year there has been a huge problem."

One resident suggested that the $12 bulk item pick-up recently implemented by the Finance Control Board was too expensive and was encouraging some people to illegally dump large items such as pieces of furniture.

Millie Dunbar, who lives on Barney Lane, said residents there have had their tires slashed and car windows broken. She said that young people walking through the area regularly look in people's windows to see if there is anything to steal.

"This city needs the National Guard in here 24 hours a day to work with our policemen," Dunbar declared to applause.

A number of residents complained about less than satisfactory police response to their complaints. Hrycay explained that all calls for service are prioritized and depending upon what else is happening in the city, a call for loud noise or vandalism might not get an immediate response.

He said that people sometimes underplay the seriousness of their complaint, which does not help them. If a resident is not happy with the response they should call the shift commander at 787-6325 to complain.

The residents were also told by the councilors to contact Flynn with their concerns so he will have input from the public in planning what the priorities should be for the Police Department.

Walsh and Sarno spoke about enforcing the new noise ordinance with an ability to tie unpaid tickets to auto registration renewals. If a driver doesn't pay the noise ticket, he or she won't be allowed to register a vehicle.

"The gloves are going to come off and we're going to have to kick some ass," Sarno said.

The full City Council will take up the new ordinance at its June 5 meeting.