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Playground rules?

New amendment allows for ease of park rules enforcement
by: lori hall Ever notice the lack of rules at West Linn parks? A new amendment will make it easier to create and enforce park rules.

Besides the listing of park hours, the city of West Linn's parks have had no rules or ways to control undesirable activities. That ended Sept. 12.

The West Linn City Council passed an amendment to its municipal code during its Sept. 12 meeting that allows its parks and recreation director to set enforceable rules at city parks.

Prior to the amendment, the director only had authority to set park hours. There were no enforceable rules on noise, alcohol, party size, music or other nuisances.

According to city staff, there haven't been established rules before because it 'wasn't a big issue.' The amendment is a way to clean up city code and was made at the recommendation of the city prosecutor, Rhett Bernstein.

'It's an attempt to create some authority for the police department and the parks director,' he said.

Previously, when complaints were called in to the police department, they could ask for compliance, but there was no way of issuing citations or enforcement.

'Basically, all of our rules are a bluff right now,' said Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester to the city council during its Sept. 6 work session. 'Right now, all we can do is set hours.'

Police Chief Terry Timeus said the change in the code will help residents who call and complain about noise or activity coming from neighboring parks.

'There are certain times and situations in the parks when there is nothing we can do,' said Timeus of the previous code.

Timeus said the previous lack of rules and enforcement could cause a high level of frustration for park neighbors. Police could respond to complaints, but had no way of enforcement.

'I think this is a good move,' said council member Jody Carson. 'We need rules that are enforceable. It's good to have the ability to update those rules as needed.'

Alhough there are not specific rules outlined at this time, proposed rules would relate to ensuring safety, such as no fires and no camping in the parks and restricting tobacco use around playgrounds.

The ordinance states that the parks and recreation director can establish park hours and rules 'for the use and enjoyment' for all city parks and recreational facilities, including boat ramps and landings.

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after its passage and the posting of signs with rules will occur as funding allows.