Volleyball, a harmless game by itself, drew unwanted national attention to Danbury seven years ago when the city cracked down on people making money on consessions during neighborhood volleyball games. The games were played week in and week out at some houses, driving neighbors mad, while the sponsors earned money selling food and alcohol.
Cynthia Mcfadden of 10 Pleasant St. told the Tuesday she was moving out of Danbury because of the dangerous situation caused by a volleyball game across the street from her house. She said the street was blocked on Sunday during the game by cars, and children were running in all directions. Her next-door neighbor, another non-fan of volleyball, reminded the council that a boy was struck and killed under similar conditions on Stevens Street a year or so ago.
She said a hot dog vendor showed up with a truck to take advantage of the crowd.
When the city tried to crack down on the business aspect and the recurring games seven years ago, Danbury learned that volleyball is a national pasttime and passion for Ecuadorians. Games that started in the afternoon would go late into the night. Crowds would gather, courts came complete with portable toilets, and food and beer were sold. The New York Times said Danbury's trouble with Ecuadorian volleyball in 2005 was one example of the nation's problems with immigration. This article appeared at the peak of this debate in Danbury in 2005.
The illegal aspects, such as selling food and beer without a permit or charging admission, were hard to prove. Cracking down on illegally parked cars was easier. The games themselves, however, were legal and just people enjoying their property. Boughton said the last thing he wanted was another attempt to craft laws or regulations to prohibit volleyball games.
"Last time I spent several hours giving a deposition," Boughton said. "I think we have plenty of laws available for this."
To give people a place to play outside sensitive neighborhoods, Danbury set up volleyball courts in Rogers Park.
Shawn Stillman, the coordinator of the UNIT, a team of city employees who try to keep neighborhoods clean and safe, said this Pleasant Street house had been the site of several volleyball games two years ago, but he heard about Sunday's game too late to see it in action.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said he got an email about it on Sunday, but by the time a city police cruiser arrived at the game, the cars weren't illegally parked and the hotdog vendor had left.
Council members asked Stillman what he did to stop it two years ago, and what he would do about it now. He said he would visit the house, talk to the tenants, and explain their games were hurting the neighborhood. Boughton said what also worked in the past was calling the homeowner and meeting with them in city hall to talk about their house and what their tenants are doing.
Stillman said he'd visit the house Wednesday.