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Wed., Oct. 7
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Massena mulls enforcement of curfew


MASSENA - A nightly curfew could be on the way for village children and teenagers.

Officials may enforce a curfew as part of a larger strategy to curb juvenile crime and improve quality-of-life issues. A village ordinance stating residents under the age of 16 cannot be out between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by an adult has already existed for years, according to Police Chief Timmy J. Currier.

“We have not enforced it,” Mr. Currier said. “As written, it’s really unenforceable.”

The village has some work to do before enforcing such an ordinance, Mr. Currier said. In 2009, the New York State Court of Appeals struck down a curfew implemented by the village of East Rochester. The court ruled East Rochester did not have sufficient data to enforce that ordinance.

Mr. Currier said his department is compiling seven years’ worth of data to show a curfew’s necessity. He expects to submit a revised curfew proposal to the village Board of Trustees within the next couple of months.

“It’s labor intensive because we’re looking at each juvenile incident and each vandalism incident ... Once we look at the data, it’s going to be clear we have juvenile issues at night that hopefully can be prevented with the enforcement of a curfew,” he said. “We’re looking to revise our ordinance to bring it in line with the court of appeals recommendations.”

Mayor James F. Hidy fully supports enforcing a curfew. He grew frustrated when vandals struck the Pine Grove Cemetery last year and desecrated gravestones. When other juveniles recently spray painted a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus near St. Mary’s Church, he said he was sent over the edge.

“Enough is enough,” Mr. Hidy said. “People in the village are not going to be afraid of walking the streets at night.”

Mr. Hidy and Mr. Currier invited a host of Massena leaders, including local justices Gerald Sharlow and James Crandall and School Superintendent Roger B. Clough II, to a meeting last week to discuss the proposed curfew and other proposed changes.

“We’ve got all the necessary people involved,” he said. “They’re all buying into it.”

The curfew won’t be a problem for everyone, he said.

“Responsible parents certainly don’t have to worry because they know where their children are,” Mr. Hidy said.

Mr. Hidy said he remembered he days when the fire department siren blew at 10 p.m. each night. It was time to head home at that point, he said.

“That was kind of the code you lived by,” Mr. Hidy said. “It didn’t hurt any one of us one bit.”

That’s not the only change on the way. The code enforcement office will begin personally delivering violation notices to residents instead of mailing them. Mr. Currier said the hope was hand-delivered violations would have a higher probability of resolution than ones delivered in the mail.

Other forthcoming changes will hopefully crack down on some of the village’s blighted properties, Mr. Hidy said.

“We just felt there’s some areas of concern we need to start addressing. We’re going to make a commitment to try and bring some of these things back in line,” Mr. Hidy said.

Not everyone will like the changes on the way, Mr. Hidy said.

“A little bit of pain for a short period of time to get this village back on track is what’s needed,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s going to be painful for some. We’re going to get these neighborhoods back in shape ... It’s going to be what’s in the village’s best interest.”

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