Town posting red notices on violators' doors

By Mark Schieldrop/Independent Staff Writer

 

NARRAGANSETT - With students back at the University of Rhode Island for less than a month, three off-campus student rental properties in Narragansett already have been slapped with red notices for violating a new town nuisance ordinance.

The stickers, which some have called a localized version of "The Scarlet Letter," are posted on doors for 60 days, part of a new and tougher town policy aimed to curb rowdy, drunken behavior among student renters.

"It's been beautiful weather, and this is behavior we expect at this stage," said Police Chief David A. Smith. "What we hope is that this time, the most obvious warnings will be heeded."

According to police, the residences are located at 285 Ocean Road, 51 Glendale Road and 29 Exeter Blvd.

At 285 Ocean Road, a party with more than 100 people was held and neighbors called police to complain about cars in the neighborhood and noise keeping them awake.

At 51 Glendale Road, a 50-person party was held, and at 29 Exeter Blvd., a large party of 75 people capped off a week during which numerous neighborhood complaints brought police to the area to deal with noise and traffic. Residents told police the students had been partying every night since they arrived, keeping the neighborhood awake late at night.

Attempts to reach the property owners were unsuccessful.

"Kids are going to test the boundaries," said Ptlm. Anthony Pelopida, one of two community police officers who work closely with the student population, the university and the URI/Narragansett Coalition - a group formed to address issues among the student population in Narragansett.

Pelopida said the residents of each house signed a form that states they understand the rules, and the property owners have been notified as well as the tenants.

The stickers must remain on the front door for 60 days and any further violations can lead to fines.

At Glendale Road, the owner's daughter is a tenant.

"If we have to respond again, both the young woman and her father will have to go to Municipal Court," said Pelopida.

Smith said this year is a "breakthrough" year for the department and the URI/Narragansett Coalition, with several years of work finally resulting in new, enforceable ordinances coupled with the hiring of a rental property coordinator, paid by the town through rental registration fees.

"We're optimistic, and this is a great example of the synergy that exists between the police department, the town and the coalition," said Smith.

Smith said Ronald LePre, the rental property coordinator, is a retired state trooper and has served as a town constable for Narragansett. He will check all rental properties to make sure they're in compliance with town laws and fire regulations.

"We're starting to see the fruits of our labor," said Smith. "We don't want to lose the students and the vitality and culture they bring to the community. We just want to change the culture."