After several complaints about improper sporting activities in city parks, the city will draft an ordinance for commission approval that will prohibit those activities.
“Some activities have become problematic,” said William Hallisey, the city’s public works director.
Some residents have complained about people golfing in Payne Park and playing late-night football games in Five Points Park and soccer matches in Gillespie Park.
“One activity some people are doing could discourage others from using the park,” said Commissioner Fredd Atkins.
Todd Kucharski, general manager of parks, landscaping and environmental services, said the city has three goals with a possible ordinance: encourage people to use its parks; ensure park users are safe; and protect the investment in parks by preventing damage.
The city may follow the direction of other municipalities in the way they restrict park activities.
Sarasota County, the city of Clearwater and the town of Apopka list specific activities that are prohibited in their parks, such as model-airplane flying, horseshoes and lawn darts.
Other jurisdictions, such as Broward County, require permits for sporting activities, and some, such as Charleston, S.C., categorize their parks and only permit certain activities in certain categories of parks.
Commissioner Terry Turner said he preferred the last option.
“I think having categories of parks and activities allowed in each one is a good idea,” said Turner. “I think it’s a good idea to do something.”
Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner got some laughs from the audience at the Oct. 5 City Commission meeting, after relaying a story of a constituent confronting a man golfing in Payne Park.
“A woman with a child told me she asked a golfer to leave,” Kirschner said. “He told her, ‘Don’t worry. I’m very accurate.’”