It's been a tradition at Baines Park ever since it opened.
Softball players would gather on the hill after their games and drink a couple of beers. Sure, it is illegal to drink alcohol in Norwalk parks, but the law rarely was enforced. It was kind of like President Clinton's old adage don't ask and don't tell.
Well, times have changed.
Berry's Restaurant has spent more than a year trying to get permission to sell alcohol in Bresson Park. The restaurant already has a lease with the city to set up tables and serve food in the park. It just was going to be a cocktail, beer or a glass of wine with dinner. But city council turned down the request. In part, council said, if you change the rules for Bresson Park, you would have to do that for every other city park.
Once council said no to Berry's and Bresson, the focus shifted to other parks specifically Baines Park.
A week ago today undercover Norwalk police officers went through the parking lot and cited 12 people for consuming alcoholic beverages on city property.
Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said officers previously patrolled the park and issued verbal warnings. When patrol cars would pull into the parking lot, everybody would just hide their beer until the police left. However, after city Park and Recreation Department staff complained about picking up empty cans on the hillside at Baines, police "decided to take a look and see what is going on," Cashen said.
That led to the department's SWAT team converging on the park and issuing the citations.
A message has been sent. Whether you agree with the method, police reminded residents it is not legal to drink in city parks.
Just like the mighty Casey, beer drinkers at Baines Park have struck out.