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VILLAGE BOARD CONSIDERING CURFEW TO CURB YOUTH GATHERINGS

The Fredonia Village Board is considering a curfew to curb late-night gatherings of youths in the Water Street bar district.

This isn't the first time village officials have considered a curfew.

In June 1993, the board introduced a law to enact a curfew for youths 17 and younger. A public hearing was held on June 18, but the board took no action.

During a workshop meeting of the board Monday night, Mayor Frank Pagano said youths younger than 16 -- some from neighboring communities -- have been "hanging out" on Water Street on weekend nights. He noted that some of the neighboring communities, such as Dunkirk, have a curfew.

Mayor Pagano said the board also is awaiting direction of a task force that is investigating the Water Street problem.

Last month, 12 police cars from three police agencies converged on the bar district -- a two-block area of Water Street with eight bars -- for crowd control after bars had closed. Pagano had estimated that "a couple of thousand people" were in the area when the bars closed at 2 a.m.

The Rev. James Vacco, the director of the Newman Center at Fredonia State College, is the chairman of the group, which includes tavern owners, college and village officials and the superintendent of Fredonia public schools.

The board also said one tool that may keep down the crowds is the strict enforcement of state laws against smoking by youths younger than 18. Last weekend, police confiscated cigarettes from several smoking on the street, Pagano said.

The board also is looking to strictly enforcing littering laws as well.

Trustees said they are also concerned about the number of youths congregating along the Water Street district during the day and noted that a home-school coordinator post was cut in a budget move last spring by the Fredonia Central School Board.

The coordinator, besides acting as a truant officer, also made home visits to counsel families. Officials hope to to get the youths off the street and back to school.

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