For the first time, players who want to use the basketball court after dark at Beaty Park will have to pay to play.
While the lights will remain on this winter at no cost for those wishing to sled at Beaty Park, the courtesy will not be extended once the weather starts warming up.
The reasoning for the recent decision by the City of Warren Parks and Recreation Commission to install a pay station for the basketball court was simple, according to director Mary Ann Nau. "You have to pay to use the skatepark and the tennis courts after dark," she said.
Photo by Brian Collins
They’re idle now, but when good weather rolls around — and trust us, it will —nocturnal basketball players will need to feed the meter to light the court at Beaty Park.
Residents might be surprised to see the darkness envelop Beaty Park this summer as the pay station goes into effect. In other words, the lights that have traditionally lit up most of the northern part of the park will be shut off, unless someone pays to turn them on.
According to Nau, that is not a concern for the city, but rather something that is covered by the laws that state patrons may only use the lighted parts of the park until 11 p.m.
"Technically, the parks close at dusk, according to the city law, but the dawn to dusk law has been loosely enforced," she explained. "As long as it (the park) is lit, you can stay until 11 p.m., so if they want to use the courts they'll just have to pay. It's not very expensive."
Nau was speaking about City Ordinance No. 1803, Section 5a that states: " Park, recreation, and conservation areas shall be open to the public from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. with the exception of the designated lighted facilities within park, recreation, and conservation areas which close at 11:00 p.m."
The ordinance goes on to state: "It shall be unlawful for any person, or persons, other than city service personnel conducting city business therein, to occupy or be present in said park, recreation, and conservation area during any hours in which the area is not open to the public."
"Although the lighting will change to a 'pay as you go,' we are not really concerned about additional problems," said Police Chief Raymond Zydonik. "New lighting will be added to the pavilion where the bulk of our problems occur. Typically officers will spotlight the area around the park when they drive by and, honestly, we have lots of citizens that will phone in complaints when they see activity there after the park closes. With some vigilance on the part of both citizens and officers on patrol, I'm sure we can handle anything that comes up."
Zydonik also mentioned that patrols would be stepped up if problems or complaints increase. "In the past, we have arrested individuals for trespass in the park," he said.
Section 8 of the ordinance states that violations of any provision in the ordinance will result in a fine of no less than $25 to as much as $1,000. "We will enforce these regulations," Zydonik warned.