CHAGRIN FALLS — Riverside Park – and every other public land in town – may not be used for overnight camping and sleeping, and anyone caught doing so will be cited under proposed new rules of an existing park use ordinance in the village.

Councilwoman Nancy Rogoff, representative to the Planning and Zoning Commission, explained during Monday’s council session the need for further controls over what can and cannot happen in village parks and public spaces. The discussion surfaced recently when it was learned that some people had camped overnight in Riverside Park, she said.

The former ordinance stated Riverside Park was closed from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Council is proposing to add that no overnight camping or sleeping will be permitted in designated areas.

Signs will be posted noting the regulations. “Now that it is stated it can be enforced,” Ms. Rogoff said.

In addition to Riverside Park, the new “use of parks” ordinance includes all village parks plus Whitesburg Nature Preserve, Village Hall, Evergreen Hill and Grove Hill cemeteries and the grounds around the wastewater treatment plant.

Council President Erinn Grube noted there are times when overnight use is necessary. She pointed out the Cub Scouts use River Run Park each year for a father-son camp out and the Chagrin Valley Jaycees use public land as temporary campgrounds for Blossom Time carnival workers.

It was pointed out the Jaycees consult with the village each year regarding their plans for Blossom Time and housing areas for carnival employees is discussed.

Local authorities including the police department can grant permission for overnight use of public property as long as the users request just once a year, have insurance and supply portable toilets.

Some members of council said that authority should be at the discretion of the mayor alone, but village law director Dale Markowitz advised the Ohio Supreme Court had ruled against the unilateral use of authority.

Wording of the amendment will be adjusted to reflect council input and the ordinance will be considered again at the next council meeting.

“This is still on readings, and we will have some amendments at the next meeting as it applies to all public property, not just parks,” Ms. Grube said. Ordinances require three readings before council takes a final vote.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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