By Mark Carlisle
A year ago, when a spectator at a city-sponsored basketball game assaulted the site supervisor, the man was removed from the facility, but nothing in city law prevented him from coming back to a game the next day.
City Council moved to rectify this last month with a change to city code that allows for people to be suspended from city parks and recreation facilities, such as the Litchfield Park Recreation Center.
The 2018 incident, though at a Litchfield Park-sponsored event, took place at a venue outside of city limits, but Council amended the new law to allow for suspension from any city program, including in a leased space outside of the city.
A written appeal of a suspension can be filed within five days of the suspension. A hearing would then be held by the Recreation Services Director, John Mazza, either in person or over the phone. The director will give a written decision withing 10 days of the hearing, which is not appealable. If a suspension is five days or fewer, it is not appealable.
The new law does not allow people to be banned entirely from a city park or recreation facility. City attorney Susan Goodwin said when staff began discussing the ordinance, the intention was not to ban a person from all parks forever, but rather give the city the authority to remove them from the particular park or program in which the offense occurred.
Reasons for suspension listed in the city code include damaging or tampering with facilities, damaging plants, littering, riding motorized vehicles on park grounds, riding non-motorized vehicles like bicycles or skateboards in areas where signage states it is prohibited, bathing or swimming in park waterways, advertising or selling goods in a city park or recreation facility, bringing glass containers into a park or recreation facility, fishing without a license in the lake, using an unregistered watercraft or prohibited type of watercraft on the lake, trespassing in a city park or recreation center that is closed, making “unreasonable noise,” not properly controlling animals, bringing weapons into a park or recreation facility, smoking outside of designated smoking areas, possessing spirituous liquor in a park or recreation facility unless specifically authorized, golfing, starting fires or engaging in other activities deemed dangerous.