Parks and Rec Board discusses opening, closing times of parks

Published on Monday, 18 November 2013 23:52 - Written by DAYNA WORCHEL dworchel@tylerpaper.com

It could be time to take another look at opening and closing times for Tyler’s parks — even the lighted ones, the city’s Parks and Recreation Board members discussed Monday.

The City Council in October passed an ordinance to designate the hours of P.T. Cole Park from dawn to dusk after a police request to do so because of a summer gang-related killing there.

But Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings said the city’s ordinance governing park hours can be confusing because of different opening and closing hours. Some parks, such as Bergfeld, have dusk to dawn closure, with the exception of their lighted tennis courts, which may stay open until 10 p.m.

“We need to organize times and be clear about when the facilities are open in the evening,” Ms. Rollins said. “Even if it’s lighted, there should be a closing time.”

There are special athletic events or tournaments at night at Faulkner and Pollard parks, so those facilities could stay open during those times, Ms. Rollings said. Board members discussed 10 p.m. as a possible closing time for parks with lighted facilities. The Parks Board took no action Monday about the park hours,

Tyler police will be asked to come to the board’s next meeting in January to give crime statistics on the city’s parks, and community members also will get a chance to give input, Ms. Rollings said.

“The lights at P.T. Cole Park don’t come on at all since we changed the hours,” Ms. Rollings said.

Tyler police recommended not having the park’s lights come on at all once City Council members voted to change the operation hours. The number of visitors to that park seems to have changed, Ms. Rollings told board members. She said she passes by P.T. Cole Park most days on her way home from work since the incident during the summer, and that there are few people there now.

“Before, when I would pass by there at 8 p.m. over the summer, the park was full of people — I don’t know if it’s from the shooting or because people don’t feel safe,” Ms. Rollings said.

She added that there had been a great deal of vandalism at some parks, including Fun Forest Park.

“There has been graffiti and some things have been torn out of the bathroom,” she said.

It’s not uncommon for newly planted trees and rose bushes to disappear from Faulkner Park or the city’s Rose Garden, Ms. Rollings said.

Tyler police spokesman Don Martin on Monday said it might be too soon to say if there has been any impact on crime at P.T. Cole Park since the new opening and closing hours were implemented.

“We would have to run a crime analysis of that to see what impact it has made,” he said.

The next Parks and Recreation Board meeting will be on Jan. 27. The place has not yet been decided.