By Brenda L. Holmes
Several residents approached the Plainfield Town Council about an ordinance which governs the rules and regulations for the town’s parks and trails.
Plainfield resident Francis Daum started the discussion during the “Business from the Floor” section of the Monday meeting of the town council.
“I am concerned about ordinance 10-2013 which deals with the rules and regulations of parks and recreation,” she said. “The clear purpose of the ordinance is to limit the town’s liability.”
She said she has always been proud of the town’s parks system and that she believes the trail system has become the envy of surrounding communities.
“I just think this ordinance goes beyond the scope of good common sense,” Daum said. “These are needless constrictions.”
One of the rules she was questioning is the availability of the recreational area from “dawn to dusk.”
“There are people who are training for the Mini that will be out running on the trails before dawn,” she said. “I hope you look at this ordinance from a different perspective before it is read the third and final time.”
The ordinance is in the process of being updated. It had been read at the March 11 meeting and the second reading took place in the council’s “consent agenda” just prior to Daum taking the podium.
Council President Robin Brandgard thanked Daum for her comments.
“I don’t necessarily disagree with you,” Brandgard said. “But we do live in a different society than when we were kids. Our parents took responsibility for our actions. Now, the first thing they do is run to a lawyer. We have to protect the town if we are to go to court.”
Kent McPhail, council member, echoed some of Brandgard’s statements.
“We do have to be very cautious,” he said. “I would like the council and Mel (Melvin Daniel, the town council’s attorney) to go back over the ordinance. Sad to say we live in a society that needs an ordinance like this.”
Council member Renea Whicker pointed out that the ordinance was just being updated from an ordinance which has been in place for several years.
“We added the Bark Park so we added that to the ordinance,” she said.
Whicker said the new ordinance also includes language to ensure park patrons clean up after their animals.
Brandgard said being available from “dawn to dusk” was put in place for safety reasons.
“You can look at other trails like the Monon,” he said. “Even when trails are lit there is always more criminal activity at night than during the day. And if the lights are on at the basketball courts they can be used. They can be there until the lights are turned off.”
Plainfield resident Debbie Daum said she was confused by some of the wording of the ordinance.
“I suggest clarification,” she said. “I think you have to be more specific. And I know that some of the town’s police officers don’t know the ordinance.”
She asked whether people will need to be off of the town’s trail system by dusk even when the trail runs along a road.
“I see a lady that walks to work right past my place on Hadley Road,” Debbie Daum said. “Will it be a violation for her if she has to go to work before it’s light out?”
Brandgard said as long as the sidewalk runs along a road and it is lighted, it is not a problem.
“We are talking about those trails that go deep into a park,” he said. “Not those along a roadway.”
Resident John Kivett encouraged the council to look at the ordinance much closer before it’s adopted.
Brandgard agreed and said the council, along with staff, will be looking over the ordinance to see what changes need to be made before it’s read a third time.
Traditionally, ordinances are adopted after the third reading.
The next Plainfield Town Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 8 in the town council’s chamber at the Plainfield Town Hall. The chambers are on the second floor of the building.