Our View: Extend alcohol ban to Kutzky, Slatterly parks

A woman bikes with her dog through Kutzky Park on a summer day.

Some might consider the proposed alcohol ban at Kutzky Park and Slatterly Park an over-reaction to a handful of incidents.

But take a close look at the numbers. Not only is there a dramatic increase in unwanted behavior that discourages families from using the parks, but the number of police calls is escalating at public expense.

Rochester police responded 153 calls to Kutzky Park through the first 10 months of this year, with 68 alcohol-related incidents. That's up abruptly from 2014 when there were 65 police calls and 18 alcohol-related incidents.

The sharp increase prompted members of the Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association to discuss the issue during the summer and fall. Aware that an alcohol ban in one park could simply push the problem to another, members of the Kutzky association met with the Slatterly Park Neighborhood Association and jointly concluded that alcohol bans at both parks were necessary. Slatterly had 14 alcohol-related incidents in 2014 and 18 during the first 10 months of 2015.

Last week, the Rochester Board of Park Commissioners voted 6-1 to recommend the Rochester City Council ban alcohol at Kutzky and Slatterly parks. The sole dissenting vote was by a commissioner who favored a blanket ban at all city parks.


While we're not ready to endorse a complete prohibition from our city parks, we hope the city council approves the ban at Kutzky and Slatterly. If police response numbers to the parks decrease significantly after a year and problems are rising at other parks, we believe discussion of a citywide ban could be justified.

If approved, Kutzky and Slatterly would join other city parks — Central Park, Mayo Memorial Park, East Park and Foster Arend Park — with an alcohol-free environment. Bans at those parks also were prompted by similar incidents to those seen at Kutzky Park, said Greg Jeardeau, a member of Rochester Police Department's Community Action Team.

"You could drive there any day of the week, and you're going to see the problem," Jeardeau said. "It's making people uncomfortable using the park, and it's not just that people are there having a couple of beers. We're talking high, high levels of intoxication."

Jeardeau said an alcohol ban would give police an enforcement tool to curb unwanted behavior at the parks.

We understand many Rochester residents who drink responsibly aren't eager to forfeit the right to safely enjoy a beer at a family reunion or some other get-together, but the reality is our public parks have become a magnet for unruly behavior.

Families shouldn't be wary of using their neighborhood parks because of disorderly drunks. And it's poor use of our tax dollars to have police officers called to a public park several times a week to clear them out.

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