STONINGTON — A curfew for Donahue Park on Mechanic Street has been approved by Stonington selectmen in response to complaints of people drinking in the park late at night and passing out in the gazebo.
Lt. Michael Peckham said that Police Chief Darren Stewart was asking for a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. that would comply with a town nuisance ordinance.
“People are drinking in there and passing out and spending the night in there. We’ve had a couple complaints from the restaurant across the river" in Westerly, Peckham told the selectmen, "but it’s becoming more of an issue after 10. By making it 10-6 we can move forward with making it a no-trespassing ordinance.”
First Selectman Rob Simmons said, “I gather that some people are inebriated and spending the night. If we post signs saying the park has to be vacated between 10 p.m. and 6 in the morning, is this population going to pay attention?”
Peckham said posting signs would “give more teeth” in helping police issue a warning at the first offense and then issue a citation for trespassing. The first ticket would carry a $78 fine and the second ticket would require a court appearance, he said.
Simmons asked what police would do if a “young romantic couple” was in the park after 10 p.m.
“We’d probably give them a verbal warning,” Peckham said to laughter in the room at Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting.
“We’re just making sure that when we tell them to leave and if they continue to come back and continue to cause the problem … that we can take some enforcement action,” Peckham said.
Simmons noted that the curfew was consistent with the existing ordinance, so it “should not create a lot of confusion,” and added that he would let the police chief know that the town attorney would be reviewing it.
Selectman John Prue said, “It’s a nice park, and I think the police will use proper discretion.”