Park commission adopts stricter policies

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NAUGATUCK — Stricter regulations are on the way for all leagues and organizations that utilize borough facilities.

The Park and Recreation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a new, more stringent set of rules, regulations and policies that address the use and abuse of borough-owned parks and athletic fields.

With the new guidelines, the commission will put an end to the blanket issuing of field permits. Schedules, light requests and insurance information must all be provided prior to the start of a team’s season, and deadlines will be firmly enforced.

Organizations will not be allowed to set timers for lights and/or irrigation; if they do, they will lose their permits and be billed for any damages related to overwatering or excess power consumption. Lights can not be turned on more than 30 minutes before dusk, and organizations will be held responsible for turning lights off promptly after games.

Fines for leagues have been increased and a three-strike policy has been implemented. After a first offense, an offender will have to pay a $50 fee and appear before the Parks Commission. A second offense will lead to an additional $100 fine and another appearance before the commission. A third offense will result in a loss of field use for the remainder of the season, subject to review by the commission. All strikes are eliminated at the completion of each season.

Officials stressed the importance of bringing offenders in to explain themselves before the commission after each offense, feeling the meeting alone will be a major deterrent.

“We need to bring in anyone, after their first offense, to the Park Commission board,” said Jim Stewart, Director of Public Works. “Some teams, for that amount of money, will feel like they got a night of practice out of it. The torture of making the coaches come here is worse than paying the fines at times.”

The majority of the penalties will be for lights left on, field abuse without permits and excessive trash. A $200 league deposit for these matters will be collected prior to each season’s start.

It was not specified where money allocated from fines will end up. Burgess Mindy Fragoso, a burgess liaison to the commission, said she believed the money should go to the borough’s general fund, while Park Commission Chairman Pat Wagner felt the money could go to the Park and Recreation department’s field repair and maintenance accounts.

The commission discussed at length whether to erect signs on borough parks to alert users of light usage and trash laws. Members of the commission feared signs would be a misuse of money, given the track record of vandalism and theft at borough parks.

“After eleven years, my biggest frustration about being a commissioner in this town is the vandalism,” Wagner said. “Everything you do, you have to think, ‘Is it going to get ripped up, and is it worth the investment and the money?’”

Board member Francis McMullen echoed Wagner’s sentiment.

“It’s not worth pulling the money out of the budget for signs because we put them up and a week later there gone,” McMullen said. “We even board them to the fence and they still disappear. We’ve had real problems with people stealing signs in this town.”

The adopted rules and regulations will be explained in detail to league commissioners. Commissioners will then be responsible for passing down the necessary information to all league coaches.

In addition to increased fines, prices for keys will be raised to $25. The commission hopes this may address the excessive amount of keys being distributed among athletic coaches and organizations. All keys must be turned in to receive an unused league deposit.

The new policies will not affect borough residents who wish to use the athletic fields for recreational use; the restrictions and rules will be limited to organized sporting events and teams.