City looks at ways to stop teenage loitering
The Steamboat Springs City Council said lights and signs should be installed around Eagle Scout Park to discourage teens from loitering there.
The park is off Seventh Street, behind Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. In the past three months, 13 incidents at the park have been reported to police. The majority of the complaints concerned juveniles loitering in the area.
Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae told council the best option would be to continue extra patrols, install lighting on utility poles off the alleyways, place “no trespassing” signs along the riparian boundary, extend the two-hour parking restrictions from 8 a.m. to midnight in the adjacent parking lot and continue the dialogue among Parks and Recreation, the police, the juveniles and business owners.
Installing lights would make it easier to spot criminal activity occurring at night, the “no trespassing” signs would make it illegal for juveniles to go into the riparian area and the increased parking hours would limit how long vehicles can be parked.
Another option, Rae said, would be to remove the picnic tables from the park, extend the riparian area to the edge of the parking spaces and put up “no trespassing” signs for the entire area.
“We don’t recommend that option. It’s just relocating the problem,” Rae said. “We have been dealing with the issue for a number of years. We realize this is something we need to continue working on.”
At the July 6 meeting, Dick and Leslie Ryan, owners of Off The Beaten Path Bookstore, came before the council with complaints about teens loitering.
The Ryans said there has been vandalism that cost thousands of dollars to repair. They also said they think drugs and alcohol are often abused in the area and that their customers often are harassed.
Leslie Ryan told the council that the group, which she said includes about 30 people in the evenings, leaves behind trash every day, has nearly destroyed the Eagle Scout Park and painted graffiti on public picnic tables.
“I don’t want these kids moved from Seventh to Fifth Street,” she told the council July 6. “I am asking for your help in stopping the problem and for your help in letting these kids know that their behavior is not acceptable.”
In the past few years, juveniles have gathered in several areas, including the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot, Go-Fer Foods, Old Town Square and Lions Park. Most of the locations are on private property, so police can easily enforce the trespassing ordinance.
But the city municipal code only defines loitering in terms of begging, and since the juveniles were just hanging out in the park and not begging, they were not violating the law.
In looking at solutions to solve the teenage loitering problem, some council members pointed to a larger problem.
“If you are involved in organized sports, you are in paradise,” Councilman Ken Brenner said. “If you are not, there is not as much to do.”
Brenner and Councilman Steve Ivancie promoted going to the group of teenagers and looking for alternative activities.
“I think this is a symptom we need to pay attention to,” Ivancie said. “Our young people don’t really have anything to do in the evenings. This is something that really needs to be looked at.”
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