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By KEVIN KOELLING
CANNELTON – A problem similar to one the Cannelton Common Council struggled with a year ago has reared its obscene head again, but with a twist.
As the News reported in October 2012, residents and visitors who wanted to enjoy a city park were being scared away by profanity used by others. Now some people are simulating sexual acts.
At their Oct. 14 meeting this year, Mayor Mary Snyder asked about closing parks from sunset to sunrise and making them no-smoking areas in hopes of curbing a littering problem. The city’s street department cleaned one of the parks the previous Thursday afternoon, “and Friday morning there were cigarette butts, probably a pile of 15 or 20,” she explained. Nearly all of the city’s properties are no-smoking zones, she continued, suggesting the designation be applied to Gazebo Park and the hours be limited to daylight.
The park is across the street from the William Bennett Early Learning Center, and Councilwoman Kim Reed said she had received some complaints from several parents and grandparents about young people’s activities in the park at midday.
“These are not school-aged kids,” she said, “because the other kids are in school … these are the older, 20-year-old kids that we’ve had the same problems with, that practically live in the park during the day. There was some vulgar stuff going on. You don’t lie on the ground with your girlfriend and pretend to be doing something in the middle of the afternoon when there are preschool kids that are 5 years old getting into their cars with their parents … I had numerous phone calls over that.”
“That’d be just like somebody undressing,” she added. “Kids that age shouldn’t be doing that in front of 4- and 5-year-old kids.”
Councilman Emory Yaggi said he, too, had heard the complaints.
Police Chief Lee Hall is at the school when children are arriving or departing, the mayor said, but is watching the children. “He’s one person; he can’t be everywhere,” she said.
“This is a real serious problem,” Councilman Jack Harris said, suggesting city officers “make an extra effort to patrol that area at that time. This is important. We’ve got reports on it and I think we need to act on it and ask the police to keep close watch on it.”
“It’s sad. We try to have a nice area for our community by having a park,” Councilwoman Lynn Fulkerson said, mentioning conversation at an earlier meeting of the city’s board of public works and safety about people shooting BB and other toy guns there.
The News reported that discussion Oct. 24.
“It’s one thing after another,” Fulkerson said.
“We spend a half-hour every council meeting talking about that 300 square feet,” city attorney John Werner said.
Harris offered a motion to implement the nighttime closures and no-smoking designation, which received unanimous support from the others. Werner said he’d draft an ordinance to that effect.