Pelham adopts rules for its city parks

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council approved an ordinance outlining rules for the city’s parks at a meeting on Monday, May 7. Parks and Recreation Director Billy Crandall said the move was prompted by complaints from residents and a need for consistent practices.

“We’ve had citizens calling about dogs, drones, throwing Frisbees, riding bikes on walking trails, hitting golf balls – I mean, you name it,” Crandall said. “We have rules but nothing has ever been officially adopted by the City Council.”

Crandall said he requested the help of Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer to create a list of rules that will govern city parks.

“We worked with the police department to get some suggestions on the types of rules that should be implemented and advice about how to be as fair as we possibly can,” Crandall said.

The rules address the use of drones in city parks, dogs being on leashes and reserving fields for personal use, among other things.

“We really want people to notify us if they want to use a baseball field just to make sure that it’s available for use,” Crandall. “It’s as simple as giving us a call to make sure the field is available before driving out to the park. This will help us avoid issues and confrontation. Scheduling the fields and basketball courts is extremely important.”

Crandall said there have also been situations where parents didn’t want their kids captured in any drone photos or videos.

“Some parents have concerns about their child being placed on any website,” he said. “Drones fly pretty high but they can zoom in and take a picture as if it was right there in your face.”

Crandall said drones haven’t been banned, but users will have to get permission to fly a drone at a city park.

“These rules weren’t made to control everything that people want to do,” Crandall said. “We’re just trying to make it easier for everyone. If everyone will just communicate with us, it will all work perfectly.”

According to the ordinance, individual parks can request changes to the rules to fit their specific needs. On a yearly basis, Crandall and the City Council will review suggested rule changes. If a situation presents a danger to citizens, Crandall can change the rules immediately and then notify the council of the change.

The facilities falling under this ordinance include: the rec center, Pelham Racquet Club, Pelham Tennis Center, Pelham youth baseball/softball facility, Carroll Park, Creekview Park, Coker Park, and when completed and open for use, the Pelham Pups Dog Park and the greenway and trail system.

Fun Go Holler Park and the outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts next to the rec center are joint ventures with Shelby County and will require involvement from the county commission for rules adoption.

Crandall and sport specific athletic managers and boards of directors will be responsible for establishing rules for each youth and adult sport.

Any person who violates any provision of the adopted rules will be subject to arrest and upon trial and conviction in the municipal court: for the first offense shall pay a fine of $50 plus court cost, for the second offense shall pay a fine of $100 plus court cost and for the third or any subsequent conviction thereafter shall pay a fine of $200 plus court cost.

The adopted rules are as follows:

-No drones are permitted within a 300-foot radius of any City Park and must adhere to all FAA regulations regarding drone flights. Any variation from the above rule must be approved by the Park and Recreation Director by submitting a written request including name, type of drone, date requesting to fly, purpose of flight and copy of FAA required license. The written request must be submitted 10 days in advance of proposed flight date.

-Any use of lawn darts, golf balls, fireworks, model rockets and any other projectile deemed dangerous by the Park and Recreation Director is strictly prohibited at any Pelham City Park.

-No cars, trucks, motorcycles, three wheelers, four wheelers, golf carts or any other unauthorized vehicles are permitted in the City Parks except in designated parking areas.

-No bicycles, skates, skateboards, hover boards or scooters are permitted within the fenced area of the baseball/softball fields or on the walking track around the field as their use presents a safety issue for those attending ball games and using the track.

-Tobacco, smokeless tobacco, vaping or alcohol will not be allowed in any Pelham City Park. Exceptions may be granted for special events. Any person planning a special event during which alcohol will be sold or used must submit in writing a special event application (with indicated attachments) directly to the Park and Recreation director at least 60 days prior to the special event. Notice of approval or denial will be given 30 days after the application is submitted.

-All facilities must be approved for use by the Park and Recreation department in order to prevent any overbooking of the facilities. Use of the baseball/softball facilities or Recreation Center requires pre-approval of use and all sports teams must provide the City of Pelham with a certificate of insurance listing the city of Pelham as an additional insured before permission will be granted to use the chosen facility.

-Dogs must remain and be controlled on a 7-foot or shorter leash at all times when visiting any city park.

-The only opportunity for dogs to free roam will be when they are at the Pelham Pups Dog Park once inside the fenced area.

-IT IS THE PET OWNER’S RESPONSIBILITY to pick up and dispose of feces immediately by wrapping it in a bag and placing it in designated pet disposal or garbage cans. Anyone not following this rule will be asked to leave the park. This can present a safety hazard to the public if not followed as written and will not be tolerated.

-Dogs are not permitted in any fenced areas including playgrounds or on any sports fields with the exception of the fenced area at the Pelham Pups Dog Park.

-Police dogs and service dogs will be admitted to all areas of the park and park facilities. Service dog owners must present a certification card prior to admittance to all areas of the Park.

-Upon bringing dogs to any Pelham city park or park facility, owners accept full responsibility for the actions of their dogs and waive, release, absolve, indemnify and agree to hold harmless the city of Pelham, the organizers, sponsors, and participants for any claim arising out of any injury to dogs, whether the result of negligence or for any other cause, except to the extent and in the amount covered by accident or liability insurance.

-Any and all complaints of aggressive dogs will be addressed with the owner. This may result in the City banning dogs from future visits to Pelham City Parks. Dangerous or vicious animals will not be permitted in the park or on walking trails within the City of Pelham. See Pelham Code of Ordinances Sec. 3-8 (a) for clarification on dangerous and vicious animals.

To report an aggressive dog or a dog owner not picking up and disposing of feces in the proper manner, call 620-6426. Any questions or suggestions regarding rules can be addressed by calling 620-6426.

In other business, the council:

-Conducted the first reading for an ordinance to consider an amendment to zone district boundaries of the city, changing the present E-1 (Estate Residential District) to B-2 (General Business District). The property is located near Oak Mountain State Park Road and the applicant is Jimmie Humphries.