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Friday, January 12, 2001

Geiger Park to
stay open 24 hours

By Harold Morse

The Ewa Neighborhood Board last night voted to keep Geiger Park open 24 hours a day.

A motion to recommend closing the park nightly from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. to reduce noise, vandalism and other negative behavior failed with three board members voting for it and four against it.

Bill Balfour, director of the city Department of Parks and Recreation, told the board earlier a nighttime closing would not prevent the average citizen from going through it to a bus stop, walking a dog or quietly viewing the moon from a park bench.

"What it does, it gives the police a tool to use against the unrulies," a better hammer, he said. "It gives them a little more latitude and a little more help."

Most park vandalism occurs after dark, he added.

"Many nights I've called the police and had someone come and chase people out of there," said resident Judy Suarez. "There have been fights; there have been people partying till three or four in the morning."

Other parks are closed at night, said John Miyagishima. "So why can't this place be closed?"

He wanted police to issue citations, forcing misbehaving park-goers in the wee hours to pay fines.

Yuell Chandler said closing the park at Geiger Road and Kapolei Parkway could create problems. People barred from there would just go to another park, he said.

"It won't be long and they'll have 'em all closed," he said. "I don't want the park to be closed."

He noted some residents want to control drug use there.

"If the federal government can't control it, how are the police locally going to control it -- or the drinking in the park?" he asked.

"I don't want people who don't keep normal hours to be kept out of the park," said board member Pam Smith.

State Rep. Willie Espero (D, Ewa Beach) favored the nighttime closing. "It's really just to help the police for the kids that hang out," he said. "It allows the police officers to go there and ask these people to leave."

Theresa Gonsalves of Ewa saw crime as the issue, not whether a park is open or closed at night.

Balfour said kids should be home during the late hours.

"If they're young adults, there are alternatives," he said. "We can work on alternatives."

Balfour favors closing all city parks at night.

"I would opt to close all unlighted parks from 7 to 6 and all lighted parks from 10 to 6."

E-mail to City Desk

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