Clawson begins process to adopt parks ordinance

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published October 28, 2015

 An ordinance expected to be in effect next month would set park rules and penalties for anyone who causes destruction at a Clawson park.

An ordinance expected to be in effect next month would set park rules and penalties for anyone who causes destruction at a Clawson park.

Photo by Victoria Mitchell

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CLAWSON — City officials have said that they will protect the community’s parks, and soon they will have a local law to back their message.

Members of the City Council unanimously approved the first reading of a parks ordinance Oct. 20 that details hours, limits the use of pets, outlines parking and lists sanctions for those caught causing destruction to any of Clawson’s parks. The ordinance is expected to be adopted on second reading and go into effect next month, with an exemption for the Fourth of July.

“We do want to maintain the park in good condition for all to enjoy,” said Mayor Penny Luebs.

City officials said they created the new wording for the ordinance to promote safety and protect the taxpayers’ investment.

Voters approved a $3.8 million parks bond in August 2014, with the majority of the money going to City Park for upgrades that include replacing the running track; new lighting at the football, baseball and softball fields; and the installation of artificial turf on the football field. Updates to playgrounds at City Park and other parks were part of the bond as well.

Voters also approved a $9.9 million school improvement bond in February 2014 that included repairs to the team room by the football field and replacement of the windows and stairs in the press box.

City Attorney Jon Kingsepp said the city would not tolerate any type of graffiti or other destruction to the parks. He said the ordinance is a proactive measure.

“It’s important to show the voters that we are preserving the integrity of the improvements that are done and they are going to be longstanding,” he said.

According to the new ordinance, “It is unlawful in any park to deface, destroy, damage, graffiti, remove, disfigure or damage any park building, facility, field, playground equipment, accoutrement, signs or other physical structure.”

Violating the new ordinance could result in a misdemeanor citation with a penalty of up to $500 and incarceration of not more than 90 days; the issuance of a felony warrant by the Oakland County prosecutor having a potential sanction of imprisonment, probation or a fine in excess of $500; the assessment in any criminal prosecution of reimbursement to the City of Clawson of actual amounts spent to replace park property or repair park property; or the right of the city of Clawson to pursue damage claims against the responsible parties or banning those guilty from ever using the Clawson parks.

The ordinance also addresses vehicle parking — prohibiting any within a park with exceptions for public safety and some limited special events — and pets.

According to the new ordinance, pets must be leashed, restrained and under control when in a spectator area abutting a park playing field. No pets will be allowed on a playing field.

The pets may not be an annoyance to other people in the area and handlers must clean up and dispose of any waste caused by a pet.

City officials said those demonstrating necessity under the Americans with Disabilities Act are exempt where appropriate.

“We did have a number of complaints about dog owners allowing the dogs to run throughout the park without a leash and that dog owners were not picking up after the dogs,” Luebs said. “Of course, this doesn’t apply to all dog owners. I also spoke with owners whose dogs are well-behaved and the owners do pick up dog debris. 

That’s the reason to add language that dogs must be on a leash and in control. We also did not want dogs on the artificial fields.”

The new ordinance would set park hours as 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

“The parks committee also reports that there are signs in all the parks with different rulings, times regarding when the park is open, so we looked at one set time to be uniform in all of the parks,” Luebs said.

She said the city needed clarification of the hours to set the park attendant’s work schedule.

“In the end, we will have safe and clean parks,” Luebs said.

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