By Nancy Guenther Chapman
NORWALK, Conn. – The financial aftermath of a “disturbing” Memorial Day incident at Calf Pasture Beach last summer is coming home to roost at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
A special appropriation of $128,146 is expected to be transferred from the Norwalk contingency fund to the Parks and Recreation Department in a recommendation from the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) to be voted on by the council. That covers the cost of additional Norwalk Police officers assigned to guard the beach after up to 200 teenagers were involved in what former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling characterized as a stand-off with minor skirmishes. It also includes the police presence expected to resume next spring.
“For the last two Memorial weekends we had an issue with the beach regarding a large group of youths and it was quite disturbing,” Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mocciae said at the Jan. 7 BET meeting. “It was disturbing to the residents and, at the time, the chief and myself, we put extra officers up.”
Finance Director Thomas Hamilton said that additional security would apparently continue.
“A change in circumstance has brought us to a point where the recommendation from Mike and, I guess, the police department, is to continue with this higher level of security,” Hamilton said.
The parks and rec budget for 2012-2013 was for $75,000, Director of Budgets and Management Bob Barron said, but $150,000 has been spent. In addition, $52,000 is requested to cover police officers as the new season begins.
Mocciae said the budget for security had been cut four years ago from about $160,000 to between $60,000 and $65,000. That seemed to work for a while, but “that didn’t hold this year because of the incident.”
Having just two officers at the beach doesn’t work, as there are far more people coming now, Mocciae said. “The numbers at the beach are incredible,” he said.
Security costs for Independence Day weekend was “roughly $19,000 to $20,000,” he said. Revenues were $30,000 to $32,000, he said.
Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said police coverage is called off for inclement weather. He agreed security needs have increased.
“Going back 5 or 6 years ago when the coverage was much higher, the crowds were nowhere near what they are now,” he said.
Additional security was also needed at Oyster Shell Park, as it was being reconstructed, Mocciae said.