Responding to complaints from neighbors about disruptive behavior at the oceanfront Crescent Bay Point Park, the City Council moved forward this week with a proposal to close the park from midnight to 5 a.m.
Those with homes near the popular community park say there has been a marked increase in the number of youths visiting the park late at night and in the early morning hours.
The visitors play loud music and indulge in "drinking parties" and "illicit sex," Police Chief Neil J. Purcell Jr. told the council. Suspected gang members from out of town also are frequenting the park, he said.
"The Police Department has responded to many dozens of calls," Purcell said. It's just a matter of time, he said, until the problem becomes serious.
Though officials have never before voted to close a city-run park, he said, doing so in this case would benefit the neighborhood.
The council instructed the city staff to draw up an ordinance that would ban overnight activity at the park and present the proposal at the March 19 council meeting.