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A group of party goers gather across the street from University Park Saturday to celebrate the annual Springfest. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Police keep close watch on Springfest

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News Grand Forks,North Dakota 58203 http://www.grandforksherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/051114.n.gfh_.Springfest.jpg?itok=SypkQYZp
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Police keep close watch on Springfest
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

The annual Springfest on Saturday at University Park wasn’t “a real big event,” but because of tighter controls limiting admission to only those 21 years and older, the party “is migrating more to the neighborhoods,” said Sergeant Travis Benson of the Grand Forks Police Department.   

By mid-afternoon Saturday, Grand Forks police patrolling areas adjacent to the park on foot, bike and vehicle had made “a few arrests,” Benson said.

They had issued warrants for “party issues,” he said, including noise violations, minors in possession and walking on the sidewalks with alcohol.

Such incidents “are similar to other years,” he said.

“The police have their hands full,” said Mike Grzadzieleski who, along with his brother, owns a house across from the park on University Avenue. “I give credit to the police for doing a great job.”

Specifically for Springfest, they had erected a temporary fence around the yard, posted with no trespassing signs, to keep partiers away. 

The brothers rent out two units in the house to college students, Grzadzieleski said.

But at last year’s Springfest, he received his first “strike” for violating a city ordinance aimed at excessive partying, he said, and he doesn’t want another one.

“With three strikes, you can’t rent for two years,” he said, citing the ordinance that was passed several years ago.

At Springfest 2013, police had to break up a party of 350 people at the house, he said.  

“So we really had to come and show a presence here. I wanted to make things right.”

He would rather have not put up the fence.

“We don’t like doing this,” he said. “I’ve got better things to do.”

One of his renters, Brian Boeddeker, said the fence was “a good safety precaution — it cuts down on the problems, keeps them to a minimum.”

Two houses away, he pointed to people on the roof tossing footballs between them.

“That’s an accident waiting to happen, and a lawsuit for the guy who owns the place.”   

He said within a half hour, on Saturday, the number of partiers at that house had jumped from 10 to “between 60 and 80.”

Putting the fence around the Grzadzieleski property “was a good idea,” said Gerald Ryan, another renter at the house. “Otherwise, he could get into problems.”

His landlords “are looking out for themselves,” Ryan said, “and, indirectly, for us.”

Grzadzieleski said, the “three-strikes” ordinance only applies to houses with one or two apartment units; those with more units are not affected.

“I felt kind of cheated by the whole thing,” he said, concerning the city council’s action in passing the ordinance.

Other neighbors said that they dread Springfest because of the added noise, foot traffic and littering that ensues.

But Marilyn Sand, who’s lived near University Park for 35 years, said it didn’t bother her at all.

“With your doors closed, you don’t even hear it,” she said, although afterward, “you could find a beer bottle.”

Ken Vein, a Grand Forks city councilman who was observing the activity Saturday at University Park, said, “From talking to police, I understand that the ordinance (aimed at landlords) has been very effective in managing these kinds of events.”

In its overall handling of Springfest, Vein said, Grand Forks police had “a very good system down” for dealing with any problems.

“There’s additional patrolling in the neighborhood, that amounts to basically ‘zero tolerance,’ ” he said. “If they see something, they address it.”

He’s impressed with how well-organized the police are, he said. 

“We’ve gone from a situation in 2001 when there were burning couches (at the park), a completely uncontrolled event, to this. There’s been a tremendous turn-around. (The event) seems to have come a long ways.”  

 Vein is co-chair, with Lori Reisor, UND vice president for student affairs, of a community-campus committee that is working to reduce alcohol abuse.

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