Reader question: Are Appleton police unaware of the people taking over the Jones Park parking lot at night? Or are they unable to control them? The noise under the Oneida Street Bridge is unbearable and nonstop. They rev their engines until all conversation in houses in the area ceases. At Lawrence Court, the condos vibrate, and light fixtures have been shaken from the ceiling.
Answer: Police are aware of the noise concerns stemming from Jones Park, but the situation you describe isn’t unique to the neighborhood.
Appleton police have noticed a broad increase in noise and traffic complaints since March 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions limited social opportunities.
“Many groups took to regularly meeting in parks and commercial parking lots after businesses closed, and there were also organized ‘cruise’ events that impacted downtown,” Lt. Meghan Cash said.
Other communities also have struggled with the issue since the pandemic, Cash said.
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Although the severity of the COVID-19 restrictions eased as the number of vaccinations increased, the high number of noise complaints has persisted, particularly downtown.
In the first seven months of 2021, Appleton police reported 60 enforcement actions (46 warnings and 14 citations) for noise violations in the downtown district. That’s nearly equal to all of 2020, when police reported 66 enforcement actions (58 warnings and eight citations) in the district.
The violations included loud and unnecessary noise, illegal use of a radio and defective or modified exhaust systems.
“We know many informal contacts are also made by our foot patrol officers specifically along College Avenue and in the parking ramps on the weekend evenings,” Capt. Todd Freeman said. “These officers usually do not formally document minor infractions for noise, but it is one of their duties during foot patrol shifts.”
Specific to Jones Park, Cash said police have responded to the increased number of ordinance complaints, including loud noise.
“We continue to rely on citizens witnessing this type of behavior to immediately report it, as officers are tasked with many requests for extra attention to neighborhood issues during their patrol time when they are not on service calls,” Cash said. “We will continue to adjust our enforcement efforts to respond to the needs of our community while allowing legal gathering and balancing quality-of-life issues.”
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