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City Council reaches no agreement on Thompson Park hours


Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr. doesn’t want to see city police officers spending a lot of time dealing with hooligans causing trouble at Thompson Park late at night.

In recent weeks, Watertown City Council members have debated whether to extend the hours of the park’s operations. But they have not been able to come to a consensus. Signs around Thompson Park currently indicate it is closed from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Mr. Butler contended it is best to leave those park hours as they are.

He recalled those hours were established after police officers ended up having to control “dozens and dozens” of vehicles in the park late at night and the situation became “out of control.”

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham advocated setting times when restrooms and other facilities could be used but leaving the park itself always open. He has concerns that law enforcement would intervene in the activities of law-abiding citizens who would like to be in the park at night.

“I am not in the opinion you can close anything,” he said.

Before a decision is made, Mr. Graham contends, the Parks and Recreation Department should finish coming up with a proposed ordinance that spells out the hours for all city-owned parks and playgrounds, as well as a uniform set of rules.

After the meeting, Mr. Butler said he has no plans to propose an ordinance for park hours in the near future. He just wants to keep the discussions moving along.

Three years ago, council members started talking about implementing rules for parks and playgrounds, but they never acted on a proposed ordinance. At that time, they also could not agree on the hours that Thompson Park should be open.

The matter resurfaced in September after a city court judge dismissed a driving while intoxicated case against a Carthage man who entered the park from Franklin Street about midnight on Nov. 30, despite signs indicating the park was closed. Police later determined that James J. Cheal, 45, of 3614 Roberts Road, had a 0.20 percent blood alcohol content.

Part-time City Judge Catherine J. Palermo dismissed the case, saying the park signs were not clear enough about the park’s hours of operation.

In other business, council members:

n City Attorney Robert J. Slye gave an update about a couple who requested a sewer hook-up to their Barben Avenue property.

Mr. Slye determined the city can pay the up-front costs for sewer hook-ups and residents could “pay over time” for getting the service.

Much like a city sidewalk improvement program is handled, residents would be charged a small amount of interest and possibly could take about 10 years to pay the city back. No action was taken on the matter Monday night.

It could cost as much as $50,000 for the city to bring sewer service to the Dephtereos’s home and to a neighbor’s property, city officials have said.

The couple, Peter J. and Libby S. Dephtereos, still rely on a septic tank at 285 Barben Ave. Council members are trying to figure out how to avoid requiring the neighbor to pay about $8,000 for the hook-up if she doesn’t want it.

n Agreed to hire an administrative specialist at an annual salary of $40,000. City Manager Sharon A. Addison has offered the position to an unidentified potential candidate but needed the council’s approval to create the post.

The person will handle employee benefits issues, personnel files and other administrative duties.

Council members held off on Ms. Addison’s request to hire Public Sector HR Consultants LLC, Glenville, for $1,250 a month — or no more than $8,750 — to help her handle a variety of human resources issues over the next seven months.

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