It was supposed to be a temporary injunction, a short-term action by the courts to block gatherings at Lantern Point.
Four years later, it is still in place, despite improved behavior by Fairfield University students living in the area. And year round residents hope to make the court order permanent.
A group of nine Fairfield beach residents, represented by Joel Z. Green, brought a case against the Lantern Point Association in the spring of 2001.
The injunction, handed down by Judge David W. Skolnick, blocked students from staging events that attract more than 250 students in the association’s common areas.
The order also forbade them from playing music in these common areas at levels that exceeded town ordinances and state law.
Green explained that a number of positives have occurred in response to the injunction.
“I was retained by various neighbors in response to a nuisance condition,” said Green. “[As a result of the injunction] the scheduled Clam Jam did not occur in 2001, and there’s no question the temporary order has improved the quality of life for both students and residents.”
Although the reasoning behind the injunction may be understandable, some students question its means of enforcement.
“I understand that the full-time residents wanted something done and an injunction was what they deemed sufficient, but it is nearly impossible to accurately count 250 people,” said Brendan Rueter, vice president of the Student Beach Resident Association.
Noel Newman, an attorney who represented students who lived at the beach in 2001, said that he could not comment on whether or not the injunction was necessary, but on Skolnick’s action of handing down the order he said “the judge did what he had to do.”
Student life at the beach was abruptly changed in April 2001 when the temporary injunction was handed down due to conflict over large gatherings.
“The beach part of [town/gown relations in Fairfield] has improved,” said Fairfield University Dean of Students Mark Reed.
“There continue to be a few situations which are problematic, but overall, the situation is more positive than negative,” Reed added.
Over 100 students rent homes in the Lantern Point Association area of Fairfield Beach, and Fairfield students have been living in the general beach area since the late 1960s.
The outlook towards relations between Fairfield students living in the Lantern Point area of Fairfield Beach and the year-round residents has not always been as positive as it is today.
Prior to 2001, Fairfield University beach students held a large party each spring called Clam Jam.
At the height of the beach party’s popularity in 1996, the event attracted approximately 5,000 partygoers who drank 270 kegs of beer, according to the Connecticut Post.
Although students are legally prevented from holding gatherings of over 250 persons at Lantern Point, it has not curtailed all events at the beach.
Beach students still hold a number of smaller events in the Lantern Point area.These events have sometimes prompted legal action from residents, but the last attempt at legal action was not successful, according to Green.
“We brought a contempt proceeding last April,” said Green. “The court found the association not in contempt of the injunction. The case is currently in appeal.”
Green is also planning to look into if the Mock Wedding event held on April 9 violated the injunction.
A portion of the Mock Wedding, the “wedding ceremony,” was held on the patio area outside some student houses in the Lantern Point area.
However, the number of students planned in the area escalated when the ceremony unexpectedly coincided with the Fairfield University and Providence University men’s rugby “drink-up.”
During the time that the Mock Wedding participants were in the Lantern Point area, Chris Peters ’06 jumped off a deck at a house at Lantern Point, and landed on the wooden deck below.
Peters was attended to by Fairfield Police at the beach and was then taken to Bridgeport Hospital.
“It wasn’t just Mock Wedding people at the Point, there was a rugby tournament that brought people from other schools as well,” said Lindsey Brown ’05, who lives in Lantern Point.
Brown added her belief that Fairfield students who live at the beach area should have some rights as well.
“We’re not year-round residents, but the residents need to understand we pay a considerable amount of money to live down here and we have rights too,” she said.
“It makes me upset that residents complain when they knew Fairfield students have lived at the beach for years. There are two colleges in this area, and residents need to accept that,” said Brown.
Despite continued attempts at legal action from residents, police records reflect improved behavior by beach students.
According to the Connecticut Post, Fairfield Police said that the number of citizen complaints from Fairfield Beach since the Clam Jam tradition was ended show a total of 214 complaints from September 2001 to March 2002, compared to 68 from September 2003 to March 2004.
According to the records department at the Fairfield Police Department, statistics were not available for September 2004 through March 2005.
However, if the Fairfield Police find association members in contempt, there is little they can do.
“That’s a civil order. We can’t take any enforcement action but to document the people there. It’s up to the landlords, the owners of the property [to enforce],” Fairfield Police Lt. Philip F. Mascendaro told the Connecticut Post in 2004.
During Clam Jam in past years, nearly 40 officers were assigned to the Lantern Point area in shifts to maintain order. In 2000, Fairfield students reimbursed the town $11,300,which covered nearly all of the overtime costs, according to the Connecticut Post.
The Clam Jam event was traditionally held the last Saturday in April. This Saturday the on-campus Spam Jam event is scheduled to take place.
Fairfield Police Chief Joseph Sambrook did not return phone calls for comment on current student behavior at the beach.
According to dictionary.law.com, a temporary injunction is an order that prohibits action until a trial or another court action to make guidelines permanent. The 2001 injunction is still in its temporary state.
“We’re moving towards a hearing for permanence in the future,” said Green. “A permanent injunction would help maintain the student-resident relations.”
Green added that a date has not yet been sent for the hearing and could not provide a time frame for further action.
Whether the injunction becomes permanent or not, Reed hopes that Fairfield students will continue improving their behavior in the beach area.
“Students should get to know the neighbors, and recognize that they live in what increasingly is becoming a permanent or quasi-permanent residential neighborhood,” said Reed.
“You can’t be part of a residential community without recognizing and fulfilling the responsibility that comes with that,” he added.
“The students have done an excellent job the past five years living under the injunction, but it never seems to be enough,” said Rueter. “You never hear about the good things from the beach, only the bad, and number one worst town-gown relations doesn’t reflect student-resident relations.”