Addressing the bad behavior of some teenagers in Wallingford, parents gathered Thursday night with police and a town councilor to discuss solutions after businesses have complained of issues involving teenagers riding bicycles.
“They need to know how to behave in public places and know how to follow the rules. That’s really what the issue is," said parent Laurie Plourde.
Plourde wants to solve a problem. As a parent, she understands teens like to hang out in downtown Wallingford, but some businesses are worried after experiencing issues like theft and unsafe biking among teens.
“There has been a lot of vandalism that I’ve seen, I know there’s been a lot of loitering with large groups,” she said.
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One of those incidents was a fire that destroyed a play structure at Doolittle Park last year. A few teens were arrested and charged with criminal mischief.
Plourde gathered parents, Wallingford police and town councilor Jason Zandri to come up with solutions. Zandri said a bike ordinance is currently in the works, focusing on reckless behavior and allowing police to take action.
“By putting the ordinance in, it gives a set of definitive parameters for which they can operate to take next steps before things escalate on their own,” Zandri said.
Police Chief John Ventura said his officers are not looking to be punitive and want to simply correct bad behavior.
“The last thing we want to do is see is a child get hurt or see a motorist get hurt have to swerve to avoid a person on a bike,” he said.
Other ideas included installing more bike racks to encourage proper storage and bike safety courses for kids.
Plourde said she wants teenagers to feel welcome, but also address bad behavior.
“We do not want this to become this old versus young and people to start taking it into their own hands,” she said.
Zandri said work continues on the bike ordinance and it may be implemented around June.