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Among all the ordinances and regulations a city has, some can get a little strange. Every city has their own weird ordinances, but what about West St. Paul? Today we’re looking into weird park ordinances.
Disclaimers: Just like we did last time, let’s offer a few quick disclaimers. We’re not lawyers, so read the code yourself. Second, weird is in the eye of the beholder. Finally, this is more for education (and a little entertainment) than mockery.
10 Weird Park Ordinances
- No swimming: Swimming in any city parks is prohibited: “It is unlawful for any park visitor to wade or swim within a park or use any mattresses, inner tubes or other inflatable devices.” Wait, what about the city pool? There’s no exception listed for the pool, but it’s not technically a park, right? Nice try: The ordinance specifically defines the city pool as a park, which means city code actually bans swimming in the city pool. Oops. (I asked the city attorney about this one—she pointed to the next sentence that mentions the city pool in another context and said it could be tweaked but sometimes common sense is required in reading the ordinance.) (93.06)
- Park hours: All city parks open at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. That’s not weird. But what is weird is the exception: Haskel Park opens at 5 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. This stems from an issue with the basketball courts more than 10 years ago when the park was closed earlier to try to limit the issues. Presumably it was opened earlier as well in an attempt at equal usage. While the basketball hoops have been restored and the signs at Haskel say it’s open until 10, the ordinance was never changed. (93.04)
- Cars: You can’t wash, change oil, or repair any vehicle in a park. (93.09)
- Don’t mow the grass: You can’t mow the grass in a city park unless you’re a city employee or you have written permission from the Parks and Recreation director. This one is for park neighbors and apparently it used to happen pretty often. (93.11)
- Horses: No horseback riding in a park without a permit. Yeah, next time you’re thinking of going for a quick ride, remember to get a permit. (93.06)
- Hot air balloon: No landing a hot air balloon in a park without a permit. No one at the city remembers issuing a permit for this one, though the city has approved helicopter landings in parks a few times over the years. (93.06)
- Nudity: You can’t be naked in the park. This includes women going topless, and considering our lack of beaches it’s unlikely we’ll follow in the footsteps of Minneapolis and repeal the topless portion of the ordinance. Though there have been recent challenges to the state-wide laws on topless nudity. (93.05)
- No dogs allowed: Domestic animals are not allowed on golf courses, swimming pools, skating rinks, or athletic fields. Presumably this would include skating rinks when they aren’t flooded as ice rinks, which means letting my dog run free in the Orme skating rink is illegal. Oops. (P.S., a “domestic animal” is specifically defined as a dog or cat, so make of that what you will.) (93.08)
- Camping: You’re allowed to camp in a city park as long as you have a permit, but the rules for permits note you can’t do the permitted activity if it involves being in the park when the park is closed. So, um, no camping? The park hours listed in the code have an exception for city sponsored events that can’t happen during normal park hours, so it might be possible to camp in the park as part of a city sponsored event with a permit. Maybe? (93.06 and 93.07)
- Biking: The code specifically prohibits bicycling anywhere in a park except on “bikeways and roadways.” Seems reasonable enough, though that also means teaching my kid to bike on the tennis court and now on the Harmon rink would technically be illegal. Oops. (93.06)
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