Perceptions differ on this ‘quality of life’ issue
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org September 12, 2013 5:22PM
A street sign warns of fines for excessive noise in Carpentersville. Local resident Ernest Diamond and village police are in a dispute over noise and other problems in Diamond's west side neighborhood. | Submitted
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:16AM
Judging by the dozens of emails and pages of documentation Ernest Diamond has sent to Carpentersville officials, he lives in something close to a Kane County war zone.
According to Diamond’s descriptions of his Kimball Hill neighborhood, the area that includes Grandview Boulevard and Sleepy Hollow Road seems close to a free-for-all, where hoodlums race cars and motorcycles that feature squealing tires, loud mufflers and pounding music; where homes are vandalized and trees knocked down on a regular basis. And he appears to have facts to back up his claims, including photos of fallen trees and other parkway damage.
Police, however, offer a different snapshot. According to Cmdr. Tim Bosshart, this area on the far west side of Carpentersville, which contains newer and more affluent homes, “is one of the quietest in the city.”
Village officials know Ernest Diamond well. He and his wife moved to Carpentersville in 2003, and four years later he was firing off polite but detailed complaints about excessive noise from traffic. He also described Grandview Boulevard as an “unimpeded thoroughfare from Sleepy Hollow to Randall Road,” with drivers showing no concern for safety as they ignore stop signs and race at high rates of speed.
Diamond received equally polite responses from Carpentersville officials saying they are addressing the problem. Al Popp has been in communication with Diamond almost as soon as he took over as police chief 18 months ago, and insists the department has continued to respond to those concerns by doing speed studies, adding more patrols to the area and stepping up ticket-writing.
Quality of life issues, it turns out, rank high on local police departments’ to-do lists.
“These types of calls are addressed by our officers on every single shift,” said Aurora spokesman Dan Ferrelli. Plus, Community Policing officers also end up dealing with these concerns when partnering with neighborhood groups.
For most major issues, he said, city departments work together to enact rules that outlaw the obnoxious behavior. For example, the noise ordinance adopted in 2004 that allowed officers to immediately issue citations with stiff fines “has gone a long way in decreasing the number of noise complaints.”
The Kane County Sheriff’s Department also sees these complaints “on a daily basis,” said Lt. Pat Gengler of the department. Many revolve around drivers taking shortcuts by speeding through neighborhoods, especially to avoid construction.
While Popp agrees Diamond’s neighborhood “can be lively,” especially during rush hour because of its proximity to Randall Road, he said the village does not see the problems this resident describes.
Popp said the only complaints his department receives is from Diamond, a disabled Vietnam Navy veteran who admits he’s got plenty of time on his hands to document what he describes as “daily ordinance infractions.”
Diamond, who says he was an electrical technician for submarines and aircraft carriers, has written down license plates, met with officers in the middle of the night, and purchased several instruments that record noise levels. Last October he even began an Excel spreadsheet that he said recorded thousands of noise and vehicle infractions. Challenging these offenders with more citations and tickets, he insisted, is the only way to curtail the problem.
But with budget cuts and shrinking staffs, it’s harder than ever to beef up patrols, noted Gengler. And that means departments must think outside the box. A year ago when school started, for example, speeders zipping through St. Charles neighborhoods were a big concern. So deputies reached out to the superintendent’s office for help in educating parents and students about the problem.
“It must have worked,” said Gengler, because “we’ve not had nearly the number of complaints this year.”
There are, of course, some residents who call police “over every little thing that happens,” he added. And while some may be seeking attention, others are simply being vigilant.
And that can be a good thing, added Ferrelli because “we find they may be the best sources for what’s going on in a neighborhood or identifying problems that may exist.”
Popp insists his Carpentersville department will continue to work with Diamond. He said he even went to the man’s door one day personally to chat with him, but no one answered. In addition to plans for putting up a speed sign in the neighborhood, the chief has also invited Diamond on a ride-along to help assess the situation.
“We don’t see (the issue) as he does,” said Popp. “But we want to get to the bottom of it.”