Wilsonville City Council addresses recent large gathering in Villebois
According to Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West, neighbors in the Villebois community were less than pleased about a recent party that took place at Sofia Park. And he thinks the city should take more punitive action if a similar incident were to occur.
"That was not a little bit of an egregious violation. That was a blatantly rude, horrible thing to do in our community," West said during a meeting Monday, July 20.
The gathering Saturday, July 11, which lasted for many hours, featured a bouncy house and barbecue and may have ranged in attendance from 10 to 50 or more people based on varying reports.
A bicycle patrol officer showed up to tell attendees to disperse in the early evening, but attendees ignored that order according to Wilsonville Police Chief Robert Wurpes. They subsequently continued the party well into the evening until officers showed up again to tell them to leave.
Attendees also weren't wearing masks, Wurpes said, and city of Wilsonville staff had to clean up the mess left by partygoers over the next days.
Wilsonville police have yet to issue a citation for violating Gov. Kate Brown's orders limiting gathering sizes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wurpes said it would take an extreme case for that to happen. Currently, gathering sizes of more than 10 people are not allowed.
"The governor has been clear. She doesn't want heavy-handed law enforcement on gatherings of that size," he said. "We and the governor's office are depending on the public to be responsible and keep sizes down."
West, who said in an interview he heard from multiple residents that there actually were over 100 people in attendance, said he understands where the city is coming from in terms of following Brown's direction of not being punitive, but felt that the egregiousness of this situation warranted citations.
"I think in that situation it would have been fair to say, 'Here's your warning and if you aren't done in x amount of time, by the authority of the law, we will issue citations.' That still gives them grace to respond in the correct way."
West also said that after the party, he received a phone call from a distraught resident in the community whose family member had COVID-19. He added that neighbors tried to approach partygoers but their concerns were dismissed.
To prevent a similar situation from occurring, City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said local police will follow up more quickly after a similar incident, and Wurpes added that communicating more effectively also would help. Mayor Tim Knapp suggested signage could deter partygoers.
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