De Pere looking at parks ban appeal process
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Unsavory people in De Pere parks are removed about six to 10 times a year, and now a ban on offenders will move on to the common council.
Last month, in an effort to combat vandalism and problems in the parks, the De Pere Board of Park Commissioners approved a park ban and appeal policy.
It authorizes the police department to banish violators from the park system for six months to a year.
There’s nothing new about booting troublemakers from city parks.
“We previously had a park ban; the thing we realized was that we didn’t have an appeal process in place,” said Chad Opicka, De Pere police captain.
He said officers usually know the offenders, because they’ve dealt with them before.
Most commonly it’s tussles and arguments that get them kicked out.
Grounds for being shut out include violating or attempting to violate city or county ordinances related to parks.
The term “parks” encompasses city parks and park facilities, including shelters, restrooms, buildings and parking lots.
Some other grounds for grounding include:
• Selling, distributing or using a dangerous weapon.
• Fighting, assaulting, physically intimidating, or threatening violence.
• Possessing, selling, distributing, or consuming a controlled substance without a prescription.
• Disrupting, harassing, or threatening park users or staff, including stalking and verbal abuse.
• Engaging in sexual activities.
• Loitering or otherwise interfering with someone’s use of the park or movement through it.
• Emitting noise from personal electronic equipment loud enough to interfere with others’ park use.
• Threatening, harassing, or abusing any animal on any park property.
• Damaging or stealing park property.
• Driving recklessly, squealing tires, spinning donuts, or committing other traffic violations.
• Driving on park property, such as the parking lot, under the influence of alcohol.
Perpetrators would get a written notice of a six-month expulsion from all city parks.
A second incident during the six-month time frame would land violators a one-year expulsion.
The offender could appeal the sanction in writing within 10 days of receipt.
However, there won’t be any signs in city parks warning people of the potential for being kicked out.
Commissioner and Alder Amy Chandik Kundinger said she felt a posted notice in the park might serve as a deterrent to bad behavior.
“I’m admittedly a little torn,” said De Pere Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Marty Kosobucki. “If we start putting signs up with regards to our ordinance, the question is where does it end? What ordinance do you advertise? The next thing you know, our park looks like Highway 41 Billboard Alley.”
The matter goes before the common council, which next meets Wednesday, April 7.
Making a splash
In other park news, the new, the long-awaited VFW Park Aquatic Center will open to the public Saturday, June 12.
The city will host a ceremonial soft opening the day before, with council members and a small number of swimmers, giving life guards and staff an opportunity to do a trial run-through.
The pool will limit users to 50 percent capacity, to enable the city to sell pool memberships.
The COVID mitigation plan includes asking everyone who is not a swimmer to wear a mask, and for swimmers to mask up when they go inside the building or to the concession area, where people tend to congregate.