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Profanity an issue at council meeting

April 29, 2012
Salem News

LISBON - For the second time in three meetings, Village Council devoted a considerably amount of time discussing what to do about the problem of public profanity.

Unlike the March 27 meeting, where an East Chestnut Street resident complained about his neighbor's children and friends swearing when outside on private property, the focus of discussion at this week's council meeting was on the continuing problem of youths dropping F bombs while playing at the basketball court next to the community pool.

Council President Roger Gallo started the discussion by saying he looked into purchasing a sound-barrier fence and learned it would cost about $6,000 just to erect one section the length of the basketball court.

Kay Marshalek, who lives on Sunset Drive next to the park complex, happened to be in the audience and told council, "The last six years it's become the congregation for every child who has a problem in Lisbon."

She said it has gotten to the point where she takes her grandchildren inside when the profanity begins. "It's just not us (it bothers). It's anyone using the park," Marshalek said, adding she has seen people with young children at the nearby playground or others using the baseball field and tennis court leave when the profanity begins.

"If they're chasing other people off that's another concern," Gallo said.

Marshalek said she asked the youths to quit cursing, and they sometimes comply for a short while before the F bombs resume. "I've stopped calling" police out of fear the youths may retaliate, she said.

Police Lt. Fred Carlisle attended the meeting and said they have to hear someone cursing before they can cite them for disorderly conduct and he has yet to hear anyone cursing when called to the basketball court. Carlisle said a warning usually works because they never receive any second calls saying the profanity has resumed.

Councilman Joe Morenz said he plays basketball at the court and has never encountered a swearing problem while there.

"You want us to tape it? We can," Marshalek said, adding it has become such a problem she has considered moving.

Mayor Dan Bing suggested erecting "no profanity" signs at the court and park, but he was told such signs are already posted.

Councilman Steve Defillipo had another suggestion: Take down the basketball rims, which has been done recently in several Mahoning County communities where basketball courts have become meeting places for youths who want to do more than play basketball.

"I don't want to do that," Gallo said.

Councilman Willis Coleman agreed, recalling he was mayor when the court was installed, with the late Allen Dickey personally helping lay the cement. "A lot of hard work went in up there, and we just can't throw it away," he said.

Bing suggested taking down the names of repeat offenders and perhaps banning from the court and contacting their parents. Carlisle said he knows some of their parents and it would do no good to contact them.

Gallo and Bing recalled when they were that age they would be severely disciplined if there parents ever found out they behaved this way, but Bing said times have changed for most part in that regard.

"These kids need to respect something," Coleman said.

"I don't think they do," Gallo replied.

Village Solicitor Virginia Barborak suggested using volunteer groups such as the Boy Scouts to monitor the profanity and take down the names of offenders but then changed her mind since most Boy Scouts are minors.

Barborak suggested instituting a policy of three-strikes-and-you're-out for profanity offenders and use community service workers convicted of non-violent offenses as the monitors and enforcers. She will look into the feasibility of developing such a policy.

At its March 27 meeting, Barborak said there was little they could do about people using profanity on their own property, but the village can monitor activity at a public park.

"I think they deserve a little peace in their neighborhood," Gallo said.



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