Updates to park system needed

To the Editor:

Recently, the city commission has been looking at update a section of the city code related to park rules. This has been a sensitive issue, as the wording can lead to many unintended consequences. In both the original proposal, and the most recent one, the premise was one of the best intentions.

The problem as I see it is not as simple as patching up part of the city code. Patching it up leads to new issues. The most recent proposal for changing Chapter 94 of the code, related to the parks, does clean up the code, but one side effect is that it also removes the speed limit for bikes on the path. (Currently 94.26(B)6) Now, most of us won’t really cross 20 mph on our bikes. However, some of us can hit 30 on the city streets when we try. While it comes off an a minor thing, it is a symptom of reactionary changes to pieces of the code, rather than a comprehensive review and update.

The changes to the law so far have been attempts to patch the aging code, specifically targeting the park curfews. With changes within the city over the years, Chapter 94, and the parks system, needs a full evaluation. On the code side, it is currently unlawful to use a bicycle inside Fountain Park and Mote Park. With the comprehensive plan including a bike route spur to Mote Park, and the restrooms at Fountain Park being available to path users, that restriction is outdated. This restriction was enacted in 1997, long before the creation of the bike path. To remove that restriction would make far more sense, especially as part an a comprehensive update.

The parks themselves could also benefit from modernization. As I jogged around Fountain Park this morning, I saw that a sign was still posted with directions to the now defunct wading pool. The sign has not been updated in years to reflect the change. The method of reserving shelters is also outdated. Troy allows the public to reserve shelters online for free. Compared to trying to stake out a shelter before another person, or group, this is a huge benefit.

Ultimately, Piqua has great parks. Most are not leveraged to their full potential. Overhauling the city code is only half of it, we need to do justice to our park system as a whole.

— Nicholas Alexander