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Amityville eyes law to address public urination complaints

Residents who live near James Caples Memorial Park

Residents who live near James Caples Memorial Park in Amityville say softball players are not using the facility's restrooms, seen here on Sept. 8, 2017, and are instead relieving themselves on the field within sight of neighbors' homes. Credit: Barry Sloan

Amityville Village officials are looking to make something illegal that many residents assumed already was against the law: public urination.

The village is proposing to add public urination to the village code chapter on nuisances after receiving complaints about softball players urinating within sight of several homes near a park.

The proposed law states that no one “shall urinate in a public place . . . except in a urinal or toilet designed for such purpose.” The penalty for breaking the law would be a fine of not more than $250 and no more than 15 days imprisonment for each offense.

Several residents have complained to officials that softball players at James Caples Memorial Park are urinating at nearby village-owned bushes in view of their homes.

The problem has been going on for a decade, said Brenda DiPaola, noting that she and her family, including three young children, have witnessed men and women using the bushes just feet from their home. She said she appealed to the village when the problem started and the village revoked the permits of the teams playing there. But slowly, the bad behavior has crept back, she said, calling it particularly appalling this summer.

“From my dining room table or my kitchen table you can see them out the window,” she said. “I used to have 9-foot bay windows but [after repairing superstorm Sandy damage] I got rid of them because why do I want to overlook people doing this?”

Her husband, Dave DiPaola, said one Sunday morning he returned home from breakfast with his young daughter to see a man taking a roll of toilet paper with him into the bushes.

“I’m sick and tired of dealing with it,” he said. “What do I have to do to make it stop?”

Amityville Village Police Chief Glenn Slack said police have not received calls about public urination, though he has heard from village officials who have passed along complaints from residents. He said the proposed law would be “a tool” to address the problem. Still, he said, officers would have to witness the violation to enforce the law.

The park has restroom facilities, Mayor Dennis Siry said, but he was told by the head of the softball league that players felt it was “a long walk” to get there from the field.

Siry said the village considered placing a portable toilet at the field, “but we did not feel like the residents would like to see one of those down there either.” He said he has spoken to the head of the softball league, whom he declined to name, and warned that if the behavior continues, the league’s permit will be revoked.

There is no state law that specifically addresses public urination as a crime, but those caught in the act can be charged under state laws such as public exposure. The village law is therefore more restrictive, Siry said.

“We thought it would be good to address it directly in our village code,” he said. Village police already patrol the park, he said, and he doesn’t expect any additional patrols if the proposed law is passed.

A public hearing on the proposed law is to be held at the next village board meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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