University of Kentucky football fans beware: The days of Lexington police looking the other way on game day are a thing of the past.
The city and UK on Thursday announced stepped-up enforcement efforts on the days of home football games. The city also will increase enforcement as students move in for the start of the fall semester.
More details of game day efforts:
■ Parking will be strictly enforced in neighborhoods around the stadium on game days. Cars illegally parked on streets will be ticketed, but the city isn't yet certain how it will handle cars parked on lawns, a practice allowed for years although it is illegal.
■ UK is providing free parking for fans without a parking pass in the university's 600-space Parking Structure No. 6 at Virginia and Press avenues.
■ In addition to the 80 to 100 Lexington police officers on traffic control, at least 36 police officers and two code enforcement officers will be patrolling neighborhood streets on game days.
■ Additional street sweeping will be done after home games in neighborhoods near Commonwealth Stadium.
■ Door hangers will be distributed in the neighborhoods surrounding UK later this month to educate students about their responsibilities as neighbors.
“Our intention is simple and clear,” said UK President Lee Todd. “We want to ensure that each and every person who wants to come and have fun at Commonwealth Stadium will be able to do so. However, at the same time, we want those individuals to respect the city, respect our neighbors and respect our campus.”
Specifically, Todd asked those who tailgate to please pick up their trash.
The behavior of football fans on game days has been an issue for years in the neighborhoods surrounding the university, but the problem came to a head last year as the team racked up victory after victory.
After UK's win over the University of Louisville Cardinals, a couch was set on fire on Elizabeth Street, drunken people gathered in areas where UK students live and streets were littered with remnants of parties that went on past 3 a.m.
A Game Day Task Force was formed to prevent and address future problems in the neighborhoods surrounding the university.
The task force has proven to be an effective tool in addressing issues in neighborhoods, said Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry. “There was a remarkable change in the neighborhoods from the Louisville game to the end of the season.”
Linda Worley, vice president of Seven Parks Neighborhood Association, said she is pleased with the additional enforcement efforts.
“I'm excited about it,” said Worley, who lives on Shawnee Place. “These are things we've been wanting for years.”
With the free parking at UK's parking garage and police enforcement of parking, Worley said she is “cautiously optimistic” that parking on Shawnee will improve on game days, but “folks do like to be as close as possible.”
Fans usually park on lawns, as well as both sides of the street. Parking is allowed only on one side of Shawnee Place.
In addition to focusing on game days, the city is increasing some enforcement now, in the hopes of easing the effect of students moving into the neighborhoods for the start of the academic year.
Increased garbage pick-up began Aug. 1 and will continue through early September to handle the move-in trash that is often left at the curb for days before the street's scheduled pick-up day.
Residents are being encouraged to call LexCall at 425-2255 or 311 to report trash or trash containers left at the curb too long.
Code enforcement will conduct two housing sweeps in the neighborhoods surrounding UK.
John Michler, president of the Aylesford Neighborhood Association, said the city's awareness of the problems in the neighborhoods around UK on game days is a good thing.
Still, the city needs to do more every day, he said.
“Game day is sort of the apex of an ongoing problem from day to day, which is students being unaware of trash pickup and how to handle their trash,” Michler said. “The neighborhoods are besieged with cars every day, not just on game day. These are issues that are ongoing, and perhaps if this game day thing expresses some awareness, my hope is that the awareness carries on every day.”