UPDATE: Harrison city leaders approve parks curfew

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:01 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Harrison City Council will met Thursday night to discuss a proposed parks curfew. After several minutes of discussion, the city council suspended public comment and voted unanimously to approve the city curfew in all parks, with an exception made for scheduled city events.

Harrison Parks and Recreation Board leaders proposed a curfew for all city parks, including one where vandalism has been an ongoing problem. It calls for a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at city parks. Violators spotted at the park during those hours will be asked to leave. If they refuse, they could be subject to a fine or even arrested.

“The restrooms have been vandalized. I think the one that got more publicized was when they actually took a goose in there and killed it,” said Harrison Police Chief Chris Graddy.

Despite several efforts, the vandalism has continued. The city spent several thousand dollars on security cameras and renovation to the restrooms. Some feel the curfew is unnecessary given the ‘No Loitering’ signs that are already in the park.

”You guys have these signs, so our problem with it previously was kids already can’t hang out at the park because you’re going to get them for loitering,” said Angela Menko, a co-founder of Voice of Boone County Kids. “The curfew benefits nobody, they can already go down there, they can already monitor who’s there at night and get people to leave if needed.”

Voice of Boone County Kids focuses on several areas of teen assistance while encouraging youth to be involved in their community and local issues. The group held a survey on the park curfew. And 60% opposed the ordinance.

”We stay home eat dinner and then want to go out,” said Alexis Ransier, a teenage member of Voice of Boone County Kids. “By that time it can be 8, 9, 10 o’clock, and then if there’s a curfew we won’t be able to do anything but stay at home huddled up.”

Police say statute limitations make loitering in a public space hard to enforce.

”I don’t feel like we can go down there and actively enforce someone for loitering when using a public park,” said Chief Graddy. “This would give us authority, by city ordinance, you cannot be in the park because it’s closed between the hours of 10-6.“

“The vandalism to my knowledge has mostly been the bathrooms. They put a time lock on the bathrooms,” said Menko. “Nobody can get into the bathrooms at a certain time.”

While vandalism is the main concern, homeless members of the community in the park worry city leaders.

”This curfew just allows us the authority to go down there and say the park is closed, what are you all doing down here,” said Chief Graddy. “Then based on their response we can take whatever action we need to.”

Community members voiced their frustration with the city council’s decision to limit public comments on the matter. The Voice of Boone County Kids sent a statement to KY3 saying: “We are absolutely appalled by the lack of respect shown by city council members towards leadership and teenagers that showed up tonight. The mere fact that they wouldn’t even listen to the info we tried to provide was disgraceful at best.”

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