A Lexington proposal to barr certain offenders from city parks sparked extended discussion Tuesday at city hall. The barring procedure is just one suggestion contained in a parks task force report. A council committee approved the policy change.
Committee member George Meyers voted no, worrying it's a standard not found in otherpublic areas. "I'm a citizen of this community and I do something that parks wants to ban me from a park for doing. But, there's no other situation that any entity in government can ban me from. You can't ban me from a public sidewalk, so you can arrest me if I commit an act of crime, I understand that. But, after that, I go back to being a regular citizen," said Meyers.
Vice Mayor Linda Gorton voted for the change. She says it would apply to people with persistent violations. "There are lots of examples in life where people who don't play by the rules have a consequence," said Gorton.
Those cited for criminal behavior involving sex, drugs, gambling, or weapons could be banned from parks for up to three years. A one to 12 month barring would be an option for lesser offenses.
Lexington Police Sargent Andrew Daugherty says officers will be responding to complaints. "If you have an individual who has been banned for some reason, that has been through a process that several people have looked at this. It's not just the officer banning this person right there on the spot," said Daugherty.
Signs stating the new policy would be posted in parks. Council member Ed Lane suggested wording on signs should not create apprehension. "I would encourage the parks department when they do the signage for the parks not to come across from a negative standpoint, but more of a positive, this is a safe park, if you have an emergency or need assistance or there's something inappropriate going on in the park, call this number," said Lane.
This matter now goes on the full Council for its consideration.