Park regulations: less is more

June 14, 2013

Nothing ruins the positive feeling of a park more than signs enumerating all the things you can’t do. NO – you can’t do this. NO – you can’t do that. NO – don’t even think about doing that.

How about replacing all those NOs with one simple YES: You are responsible.

Lewes is embarking on a journey of NOs with one big temporary NO involving the use of its parks. The city has placed a moratorium on any new events in its parks while a committee works on a set of policies and regulations. The one guiding principle going into this process – which once it starts very rarely ends – should be the time-tested adage that less is more.

It is impossible to foresee every possible use of the city’s many parks and public spaces that requires consideration and possible regulation. If there are 18 things enumerated that can’t be done in a park, does that mean that everything else is permissible? Of course not, but it illustrates the futility of creating some sort of all-encompassing document that tells people what they can and can’t do.

Lewes has a set of core values that provides a template for governing and regulating the community. If proposed activities enhance or have no negative impact on the core values, then thumbs up. If a proposed activity runs counter to the core values, thumbs down.

As with most of the incorporated communities in Delaware’s Cape Region, Lewes has plenty of laws on the books to govern use of its parks. Vandalism is illegal. Tearing up others’ property is illegal. Disturbing the peace is illegal. Excessive noise is illegal. Public drinking is illegal. The list goes on.

We have police departments in place to enforce those laws and responsible community residents who can encourage responsible behavior in a neighborly fashion or alert the police if necessary.

Parks in Lewes, as elsewhere, provide beautiful public spaces where people can be outside and be active. The same basic policy that governs life for individuals in our communities should guide use of our parks: be responsible or face the consequences.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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