DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The City of Decatur announced that Central Park and Preston Jackson Park will be closed to the public between midnight and 6 a.m. each night.
The new ordinance will begin enforcement only after appropriate signage is installed that states the new hours. It will be enforced uniformly at both downtown parks unless there is a pre-approved evening event at one or both of the city’s parks. .
Being found in these parks after hours by Decatur Police will first result in the education of the new hours and a request to leave the property and/or an offer of assistance in leaving. If police officers cannot obtain voluntary compliance they could choose to issue a $25 citation.
The Decatur City Council approved this change in an attempt to reduce vandalism, defacement, dumping of trash and debris, and other issues that most often happen overnight in the parks. The city said it’s important that they take reasonable steps to keep its parks in good condition so that they can continue to use the parks as a venue for special events, festivals, and fairs. They said they hope the community recognizes these wonderful assets and supports the city by following these hours of closure.
The city also stated that they are committed to not only reducing the amount of damage in the parks late at night, but also in assisting individuals who attempt to stay overnight in the downtown parks. They have coordinated with the Continuum of Care, local shelters, and other social service agencies to ensure individuals can be supported.
Officers will attempt to connect individuals to local shelters and other social services, depending on their needs. The city will continue to monitor and ensure that shelters are able to meet any future needs.
The city council added that they will review the ordinance after one year.