Golfers can swing away in city parksThe decision may leave a few residents a little teed off, but the Farmington City Council will not ban golfing in the city’s parks.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
The decision may leave a few residents a little teed off, but the Farmington City Council will not ban golfing in the city’s parks.
Twice this month, a proposed ordinance to prohibit golfing in any form in the city’s parks has gone before the city council, and twice the ordinance has failed.
Farmington Parks and Recreation director Randy Distad said his staff has taken several complaints about errant golf balls being hit into yards. The residents making the calls live in homes that abut the Meadowview and Dakota County Estates parks, where neighborhood golfers seem to be using the open space as a practice range.
Several neighboring communities — Rosemount, Apple Valley, Burnsville and Lakeville among them — have ordinances that prohibit golfing in parks. After receiving the complaints, Distad proposed an amendment to the city’s park regulations ordinance. It received approval from the Farmington Parks and Recreation Commission, then went before the Farmington City Council for the first time on May 5.
With unanswered questions regarding how the ordinance would be enforced, the proposed local ordinance failed on a 3-2 vote, with council members David McKnight, David Pritzlaff and Steve Wilson voting against.
Two days later, resident Erin Krause chastised their decision in an e-mail to the council. The Krauses’ home abuts Meadowview Park, and, she said in her e-mail, the family finds “countless golf balls in our back yard.” She cited an incident in which several young golfers were hitting golf balls “as hard as they could ... without supervision.” Her husband told the kids to stop, and they responded that they did not have to. Before they left, the boys threw golf balls at the Krauses’ fence.
“With no ordinance in place, there is nothing that we can do to stop this behavior,” she wrote.
A second look
Her argument caused Wilson to reconsider his decision. He asked that the ordinance be discussed again at the council’s May 19 meeting.
“In some ways, it is unfortunate that we have to look at an ordinance like that, but if we’re talking about the health and safety to residents issue, we need to look at it,” he said Monday.
Wilson was ready to change his vote, but Pritzlaff and McKnight chose not to. Pritzlaff argued enforcement of the ordinance was not spelled out in the language. If it were passed, the amendment would make it illegal to golf on city property. But there was nothing on how the ordinance would be enforced.
McKnight viewed the language as an attempt to ban sports in parks. He acknowledged there may be children making bad decisions, but said that it was an issue parents had to address.
The proposed amendment to prohibit golfing in parks failed, again, on a 2-2 vote. At the May 5 meeting. Mayor Kevan Soderberg and council member Christy Jo Fogarty had supported the wording, but Soderberg was not in attendance at this week’s meeting. Therefore, even though Wilson changed his mind, the ordinance proposal failed due to a tie vote.
Prior to this month’s council meetings, Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist was not aware there was a problem with golfing in the city parks. Pritzlaff encouraged residents who have golfers hitting balls into their yards to contact the Farmington Police Department when the problem arises. Police will speak to the individuals and keep track of the complaints.