Despite a last-minute revision deemed necessary to comply with state regulations governing the possession of firearms in public spaces, Berne City Council on Monday adopted an ordinance outlining permissible conduct in the city's Lehman Park.
The five-page ordinance, introduced for the first time during Monday's regular council meeting, sets guidelines regulating park hours, acceptable user conduct, smoking, pets and horses. The legislation prohibits the possession or use of alcohol and illegal drugs in the park, sets guidelines fines for littering, destruction of property, sales and solicitation and the possession of dangerous objects.
Included in the original legislation was a provision banning the possession of firearms in Lehman Park. But after Councilman Curt Wurster questioned the legality of that ban, the ordinance was amended to prohibit the discharge of firearms in the park. That change was in keeping with a state law which took effect nearly a year ago and prohibits local ordinances that ban firearms from most locations, including libraries and parks. Exempted under the law are schools, hospitals and courts.
Also prohibited under the new Lehman Park ordinance are spears, missiles, bow and arrows, crossbows, slingshots, paintball guns, throwing knives or axes, "or any other weapon or device capable of killing any person or animal, or damaging property."
Under the terms of the ordinance, Lehman Park will be closed to the public from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., except for athletic contests or by special permission of the park board. Smoking is prohibited within 50 feet of any playground and within 20 feet of the park pavilion entrance. No animals are permitted in the park, with the exception of dogs on a leash no longer than eight feet, and cats "under proper control."
Horses are permitted only in areas where hitching racks are located, and the removal of horse manure is the responsibility of the animal's owner. The legislation also makes it illegal to hitch a horse to any tree, fence or other structure.
Skateboarding on sidewalks or interior drives of the park is banned under the new legislation, as are impromptu sporting events at any location other than designation recreational area. Hitting golf balls is also banned.
The ordinance authorizes a fine of up to $50 for violations.
Councilman and Park Board President Ron Dull said the ordinance was necessary in light of recent incidents of vandalism and to give city police additional guidelines in promoting the safety and public welfare of park users.