The Mohawk village board voted Monday to adopt a proposed local law regulating the use of village parks, but not before hearing some objections from members of the Weller Library Commission.
Local Law No. 2 of 2012 amends the village code to require authorization from the village board to use public parks in the village for any festival, concert, athletic practice or game, or any event to which tickets are to be sold or one or more tents are to be erected.
Weller Library board member Sue Forbes said the care of Weller Park falls under the library board. “As library board members, it’s our job to do what the Wellers wanted,” she said. That includes overseeing the park, the library and the vault “separate from the village,” she added. “It’s supposed to be maintained by the library board.”
She said that should not be changed because of a “personal view” that the football team shouldn’t be using the park for practice.
“With the merger, they’re not going to be using it anyway; they’ll be practicing in Ilion,” she said.
During football season, Mayor James Baron said, “it became evident that if there were an injury, the paper trail would lead back to this board.” The village as a whole would be liable, he said.
Forbes said she was opposed to the change. “If the village board is going to take control of the park, why have a library board,” she asked, adding there was never an issue until the football situation came up.
Baron said this would not apply only to Weller Park, but to all village parks. He added with the school merger there could be additional pressure on all common spaces.
Forbes said the commission does not allow just anyone to use Weller Park and when a request is approved the commission requires proof of insurance from the organizations using the park.
“I was told requests would still go through the library commission,” said Weller Library Board President Bob Wright. “How will that work? Or will they come to you first?”
Baron said requests would still go to the commission and, if the commission agrees to the use of the park for an activity, the request would be forwarded to the village board for final approval.
“But you could override us if you didn’t like it,” said Wright.
Baron said this was correct.
Village Attorney Karl Manne said the law would not change the process for asking permission to use the gazebo in Weller Park. Requests for that facility could be made to the library commission, the village board or the police chief. He also pointed out the proposed law was aimed at the larger events.
Page 2 of 2 - Baron said in the future the makeup of the library commission could change as could its views about the events that are appropriate to hold in the park. “This is a proactive approach,” he said.
“You could approve something we might not approve,” said Forbes.
She said under current rules, no one is to use Weller Park from sunset to sunrise without permission.
Bernie Somer attended the meeting on behalf of the Alexander Hose Company to ask if the law would have any impact on the company’s plans to hold its field days in the park.
Board members said there would be no problem with this and no problem with plans for concerts in the park or the farmers’ market.
In the majority of cases, Baron said, the board would approve requests that were approved by the commission.
The board voted to adopt the local law.
A public hearing was also conducted on a proposed local law to reduce the number of members on the village zoning board of appeals from five to three and to allow for alternate members to be appointed. There were no comments from the public and the board voted to adopt Local Law No. 1 of 2013.