Parks Commission considers signage to respond to complaints

The El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission continued discussions this week about posting signs in city parks to establish rules and help ensure that visitors, especially those with children, have a pleasant experience.

At a regular meeting on June 28, Commissioner Alexis Alexander reminded the group that they had previously talked about putting up signs stating the rules regarding loud music, smoking, tobacco, parking and illegal activities ( drugs and weapons).

The discussion stemmed from a report released last month by some EPPC members and Lions Club Municipal Golf Course officials Danny Carelock and Terri McCaskell on issues faced by people operating motorized vehicles, including cars and ATVs, on the new basketball courts at Lions Club Park and the 2.25-mile recreational trail that surrounds the LCMGC.

Carelock and McCaskell said they’ve also received complaints from golfers and people who use the trail about loud and “vulgar” music near the basketball courts, adding that the music can be heard on the golf course and in the shop. from the pro.

EPPC President Ken Goudy said June 28 that the El Dorado Police Department had been called multiple times in response to the complaints.

“They bring in big speakers and play it. Some of it (the music) is really bad and obnoxious and we can’t tolerate that,” Goudy said.

He also referenced a burglary last year at the LCMGC golf cart barn, which is just east of the new basketball courts, saying surveillance/security cameras will be installed in the area.

He said the cameras could also help solve the noise problem on the courts, which opened a few months ago just south of the LCMGC pro shop.

Two new basketball courts were built as part of an overall master plan by the EPPC to improve the city’s parks.

The plan includes several elements funded by the El Dorado Works Tax, a one-cent municipal sales tax initiative dedicated to economic development, municipal infrastructure and quality of life projects.

Fifteen percent of the tax is allocated to community development projects and of this amount, 6% is reserved for parks, including sports, recreation and outdoor sites or projects.

Last year, the El Dorado Works Board, which administers the tax, and the El Dorado City Council approved applications for funding from the EPPC for several improvement projects.

New basketball courts for Lions Club Park, a pocket park that included a basketball court and previously stood at the entrance to the golf course, were included in the funding packages.

For safety reasons, the park was moved to the east, where the new courts were built and a new picnic table added.

On June 28, Commissioner Alexis Alexander noted that visitor rules are posted at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex – which sits just outside the city limits on Champagnolle Road and is also undergoing an expansion. and a major upgrade with funding from El Dorado Works.

“We don’t have much in city parks,” Alexander said, referring to signs in public parks inside El Dorado’s city limits.

She said some parks have signs showing closing times and that at least one sign in a city park cites rules relating to issues such as those the EPPC is seeking to address.

Commissioner and El Dorado City Council member Andre Rucks said he had to chase ATV riders from grassy areas in Mattocks Park and Alexander said similar issues were happening in McKinney Park and the trail. recreational area of ​​the LCMGC.

Commissioner Greg Harrison, who also chairs the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Commission, pointed to similar issues at the complex.

“We don’t have any parking signs where we don’t want people to park, including the playground,” Harrison said. “Once we put up the signs (in parks within the city limits), they will have the rules and designated parking areas.”

Alexander added: “We have to put up signs like in the complex and we don’t need to do it piecemeal. We need a consistent sign with the same rules in all the parks.”

We wondered how the signs would be written, especially regarding music in city parks.

Alexander suggested the band look into issues with loud music

“I’m a First Amendment believer, so no, loud music. Crude is subjective. My definition of vulgar may be different than what a 16-year-old might think is vulgar,” she said.

Municipal ordinances

Alexander and Harrison noted that the city has an ordinance that prohibits “loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise” and another that establishes a daily curfew for minors.

The “Noise Ordinance” specifically prohibits “the playing of any radio, phonograph, or musical instrument; the use of mechanical loudspeakers on trucks or other moving or stationary vehicles…of manner or with such a volume that they disturb or disturb the silence…”

Per the Juvenile Curfew Ordinance, minors under the age of 18 cannot stay on city streets between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday .

The term “street” is expanded in the ordinance to include shopping malls, parking lots, parks, playgrounds, public buildings, common areas of public housing estates and similar areas open to the public.

Certain exemptions apply when the minor is:

• Accompanied by a parent or an adult who is at least 21 years old and who is not the parent, but who is authorized by a parent to accompany the minor for a specified period of time, for a specified purpose and in a specific area.

• Exercise First Amendment rights that are protected by the US Constitution, such as the free exercise of religion or freedom of speech.

A written communication, detailing when, where and how the minor will be on city streets at night, must first be filed with the El Dorado Police Department.

• Return home within one hour of completing school, city-sponsored, religious, or other voluntary community activities. Sponsors of such events must notify the EPD in advance.

• Engage in bona fide employment or travel directly to and from work.

• In a motor vehicle for the purpose of interstate travel, passing through, commencing or terminating in El Dorado.

Parents can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation after the first warning given to a minor who violates the order.

A second offense for the minor constitutes a first offense for the parent, according to the order.

If a juvenile violates the order more than three times, they will be reported to the Union County Juvenile Probation Office.

The matter will also be referred to the Union County District Attorney’s Office, Arkansas Department of Social Services, and/or other appropriate authority deemed necessary.

Aurora J. William