HF Park District strengthens restrictions on wading and use of drones

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HF Park District strengthens restrictions on wading and use of drones

August 19, 2015 - 16:27
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The Irwin Park fountain had to be repaired late in July 
after waders apparently caused some damage. 

(Photo by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle)

No wading and no drones allowed.

A drone hovers over an 
event in Homewood earlier 
this year. The HF Park District 
clarified its policy about the 
use of drones in local parks. 

(Photo by Eric Crump/HF 
Chronicle)

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Board of Directors, recognizing safety concerns, took action Tuesday to limit both of these activities in parks.

The decorative foundation at Irwin Park had to be shut off for repairs in July after waders thought cooling themselves in the fountain was a good idea.  It wasn’t, and their actions caused damage to the piping.

Parks Executive Director Debbie Kopas recommended the board amend its current ordinance regulating use of the parks and district property to include unwelcome activity in its language.

“The only real option for law enforcement to use to discourage this behavior was disorderly conduct,” Kopas explained.  “While this is actually a good option, we thought it would be best to tighten up the rules to include unwelcome activity, as well as other similar actions.”

The park district code now includes: “Standing, sitting, wading, entering or swimming in Dolphin Lake, the Goldberg Koi Pond, the Irwin Park Fountain, Coyote Run Ponds, Butterfield Creek or any other body of water or decorative water feature is strictly prohibited at all times.”

As drones become more commonplace, the board also took action to limit their uses at and around park district property and events.

“We already prohibit unmanned aircraft over parks,” Kopas told the board, “but adding the term ‘drone’ to our rules makes it more clear and easier to enforce. While we are not necessarily anti-drone, the main concern is for our participants’ safety. If an amateur drone pilot were to lose control of the aircraft over a crowd, there is potential for significant injury.”

The new ordinance reads: “No person shall fly, cause to be flown, or permit or authorize the flying of any aircraft of any kind at any time over district property at an elevation lower than the minimum safety requirements established by the Federal Aviation Administration…,” that could endanger the public. Landing a drone is also prohibited.

The rules also apply to flying model aircraft.

The district will make exceptions, but the drone or model aircraft user must obtain all necessary permits from the park district.