Parks Ordinance


Article 1. General Provisions
Sec. 1-10-1. Purpose.
Sec. 1-10-2. Definitions.
Sec. 1-10-3. Park Hours and Closures.
Sec. 1-10-4. Buildings and Other Property.
Sec. 1-10-5. Park Usage.
Sec. 1-10-6. Use of Cameras and Recording Devices.
Sec. 1-10-7. Authority to Rent or Lease Parks and Equipment.
Sec. 1-10-8. Fees.
Sec. 1-10-9. Exemptions from entrance fees – Sandy Creek Park.
Sec. 1-10-10. Reserved Areas.
Sec. 1-10-11. Picketing or Demonstrations, etc.
Sec. 1-10-12. Commercial Activities.
Sec. 1-10.13. Noise and Amplified Sound.
Sec. 1-10-14. Fireworks and Explosives.
Sec. 1-10-15. Litter.
Sec. 1-10-16. Distribution of Printed Material.
Sec. 1-10-17. Motor Vehicles and Bicycles.
Sec. 1-10-18. Parking.
Sec. 1-10-19. Aircraft and Radio-Controlled Devices.
Sec. 1-10-20. Firearms and Other Weapons.
Sec. 1-10-21. Metal Detectors.
Sec. 1-10-22. Abandoned Property.
Sec. 1-10-23. Pets.
Sec. 1-10-24. Swimming and wading.
Sec. 1-10-25. Boating and fishing.
Sec. 1-10-26. Camping and overnight use.
Sec. 1-10-27. Fires and firewood.
Sec. 1-10-28. Personal risk in natural areas.
Sec. 1-10-29. Natural resource protection and preservation.
Sec. 1-10-30. Pollution of waters.
Sec. 1-10-31. Smoking.
Sec. 1-10-32. Alcoholic Beverages.
Sec. 1-10-33. Penalties.

Article 1. General Provisions.

Sec. 1-10.1. - Purpose.
The purpose of this Chapter is to help ensure the safety and security of the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government parks and their patrons, to help provide an enjoyable park experience, and to provide consistent guidelines and levels of service throughout the park system.

Sec. 1-10.2. - Definitions.
For purposes of this Chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a) Athens-Clarke County: The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

(b) Department: The Leisure Services Department of Athens-Clarke County

(c) Director: The Director of the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department, or his/her designee

(d) Manager: The Athens-Clarke County Manager, or his/her designee

(e) Motor Vehicle: Any wheeled conveyance (except a wheelchair) for transportation of persons or materials whether powered or drawn by motor such as an automobile, truck, golf cart, recreational vehicle, motorcycle or scooter. “Vehicle” does not include any Athens-Clarke County fleet or emergency vehicles operating in the course of public safety or official Athens-Clarke County business.

(f) Park/Park Property: May include, but is not limited to parks, open space, greenspace, natural areas, cultural and historic sites, playgrounds, ball fields, pools, pavilions, greenways, wetlands, floodplains, lakes, rivers, beaches or water areas, and buildings and structures which are under the control of or assigned for inspection, upkeep, maintenance or operation by the Department

(g) Permit: A document provided by the Department granting permission for use of reserved park property and which sets forth terms and conditions applicable thereto

(h) Person: Any person, firm, association, joint venture, partnership, company, corporation, entity or organization of any kind

(i) Pet: Any domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility

(j) Plant: Any tree, vine, shrub, flower, fungi or related living organism

(k) Special Event - Any organized activity open to the public, taking place on park property and having as its purpose entertainment, recreation and/or education, such as a festival or celebration, foot or vehicle race, parade or concert

Sec. 1-10-3. - Park Hours and Closures.
(a) All parks shall be open to the public during designated hours. The opening and closing hours shall be posted at each park in order to give notice to the public.

(b) No person shall enter or remain on park property during hours when the park is closed. Vehicle owners locked in parks after hours must contact the Athens-Clarke County Police Department for assistance. The provisions of this section shall not apply to emergency personnel or department employees while in the discharge of their duties, or to any person having permission by the Director to be or remain in any part of the parks between such hours.

(c) In the interest of public safety, the Manager may close parks or areas within parks to public entry or otherwise restrict use until such time as the area can be made available for safe public use. Except in emergency circumstances, notice of closure shall be posted, and only authorized persons shall enter closed or restricted areas.

Sec. 1-10-4. - Buildings and Other Property.
(a) No person shall willfully mark, destroy, deface, vandalize or otherwise damage any building or other property belonging to or used by Athens-Clarke County in any park.

(b) No person shall construct or erect on park property any building or structure of whatever kind, whether permanent or temporary in character, except as part of a Department program or permitted event.

Sec. 1-10-5. - Park Usage.
(a) No person shall enter or use any park for which an entrance or use fee has been established unless each person has first paid the fee or is otherwise authorized to enter. Entrance permits or passes shall be displayed to department staff upon request.

(b) The Director may establish rules for the proper use of park amenities such as playgrounds, splash pads, swimming pools, dog parks, skateparks, etc. which shall be enforceable by park personnel.

Sec. 1-10-6. - Use of Cameras and Recording Devices.
No person shall use any type of camera or similar device to record or produce a visual image in any park restroom, locker room, bath house, shower facility or other area used for dressing or changing clothes.

Sec. 1-10-7. - Authority to Rent or Lease Parks and Equipment.
The Director is authorized to rent or lease the use of park equipment and to charge a fee for the use of park facilities to individuals and private or public organizations.

Sec. 1-10-8. - Fees.
(a) All Department fees, to include those for entrance, admission, rental, program/activity, sales revenues, non-county residents and special service/recovery, shall be set by resolution of the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission, as from time to time amended.

(b) The Manager may approve new fees for a period not to exceed six months prior to the submission of a resolution to be adopted by the Mayor and Commission.

Sec. 1-10-9. - Exemptions from Entrance Fees – Sandy Creek Park.
(a) The following shall be exempt from Sandy Creek Park entrance fees:
1. Athens Clarke County-based organizations serving minors under 18
2. Athens-Clarke County-based organizations serving the handicapped
3. Departments of Athens-Clarke County for official functions of such departments only
4. Individuals aged three and under, and aged 65 and older
5. Current and retired employees of Athens-Clarke County

(b) The following are considerations for the exceptions listed in subsection (a) above:
1. Fifty percent or more of the members of Athens Clarke County-based organizations serving minors under 18 and/or the handicapped, as referred to in subsections (a)1. & 2. above must be residents of Athens-Clarke County
2. Proof of organization’s eligibility may be required, e.g. membership roster, charter, etc,
3. One adult supervisor per every five youths shall be admitted free with a group. An adult supervisor shall include those in support, supervision or direction of the activity;
4. Eligible organizations must arrive as a group. Unless otherwise prearranged with park management, individual members arriving apart from the main group may be charged the regular entrance fees.
5. The fee exemption for current and retired employees of Athens-Clarke County shall apply only to currently employed full-time Athens-Clarke County employees or retirees thereof, who shall present a valid Athens-Clarke County photo identification card. The fee exemption shall not apply to family members of such employees or retirees.

Sec. 1-10-10. - Reserved Areas.
(a) Parks and park property shall be reserved only by permit made in accordance with the Department’s reservation policy. Said reserved park areas may include athletic fields, group picnic shelters and associated amenities, recreation facility spaces, and those areas requested for the use of special events.

(b) No person shall use or occupy a reserved space except the person or party for whom the space is reserved.

(c) Any person having a permit issued by the Department must comply with all applicable rules and regulations. Upon request, confirmation of the reservation must be displayed to department employees charged with supervision or patrolling of parks. Violations of permit requirements may result in immediate suspension or revocation of the permit.

(d) Department employees, in the course of authorized business, shall have the right to enter the premises of any building, structure or enclosure on park property, including those rented or set aside for the private or exclusive use of any individual or group.

Sec. 1-10-11. - Picketing or Demonstrations.
Any person, group or organization engaged in any picketing, demonstrations, assembly, gathering, procession or other activity protected by the U.S. Constitution shall be prohibited from blocking the ingress and egress of any park or park property, from disrupting or interfering with scheduled events, or preventing or being inconsistent with the intended use of the park at the proposed site of assembly.

Sec. 1-10-12. - Commercial Activities.
(a) No person shall conduct the commercial sale of, or offer to sell any goods, ware, drinks, food or similar items nor render or offer to render any service for hire, at any park except as authorized by contract or permit issued by the Director.

(b) No person shall place any stand, cart or vehicle for the transportation, sale, trade or display of any article, material or service within any park area unless approved by the Director in conjunction with a permitted use of a reserved park area.

Sec. 1-10-13. - Noise and Amplified Sound.
Patrons shall preserve the peace and quiet enjoyment of the parks by observing all local ordinances and state laws governing noise and amplified sound while on park property.

Sec. 1-10-14. - Fireworks and Explosives.
No person shall possess or use any kind of firework or other explosive material or system, except by permit, in any park.

Sec. 1-10-15. - Litter.
No person shall dump, deposit, place or throw any garbage, glass, coals, ashes, paper, boxes, cans, dirt, waste or other trash in any park except in proper receptacles where provided. Where receptacles are not provided, same shall be carried away from park property by the person or persons responsible for its presence.

Sec. 1-10-16. - Distribution of Printed Material.
No person shall hand out, distribute, post, display or affix any printed material or advertisement within any park property or on any vehicle that is calculated to attract the attention of the public. Exceptions to this rule include the direct distribution, without charge to the receiver thereof, of non-commercial handbills to any person willing to accept it; announcements of department-sponsored or sanctioned events; authorized signs located entirely within concession structures; and signs or distribution of printed materials approved by the Director in conjunction with a permitted use of a reserved park area.

Sec. 1-10-17. - Motor Vehicles and Bicycles.
(a) All applicable state and local motor vehicle laws are enforceable within parks.

(b) Law enforcement officers may enforce all applicable state and local motor vehicle, traffic and parking laws, and enforce all rules and regulations set forth by the Director within park property. Department personnel, authorized and designated by the Director, may direct traffic and enforce the rules and regulations set forth by the Director within park property.

(c) All vehicles operated on park roads must be street legal by state and local vehicle laws.

(d) No motorized vehicles shall be driven on the designated greenway, or the trails or paths located within parks, except those vehicles designated for the expressed use of facilitating mobility for people with disabilities, or for emergency personnel or department employees while in the discharge of their duties.

(e) Bicycles are allowed on concrete or asphalt paths within parks but are prohibited on natural surface trails unless expressly designated as bicycle trails.

Sec. 1-10-18. - Parking.
(a) No person shall park a vehicle on park property at any place other than in the expressly designed space provided for that particular type of vehicle, unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer or department employee, or by official signs or markings.

(b) The following meanings shall be given to designate curb marking and parking lot requirements, and prohibitions governing parking and stopping:
1. White shall indicate the areas within which vehicles shall be parked
2. Yellow shall indicate places where vehicles shall not be parked

(c) No driver or operator of any vehicle shall leave a vehicle parked on park property after posted closing hours without permission of the Director. Such permission shall be posted in a conspicuous location while the vehicle is parked after hours.

(d) Vehicles parked in unauthorized areas that pose a threat to patron safety may be towed at the owner’s expense.

(e) No vehicle shall be parked on park property when the parked vehicle is for the purposes of sale or repair.

Sec. 1-10-19. - Aircraft and Radio-Controlled Devices.
(a) No person shall operate, direct or be responsible for any aircraft, helicopter, glider, balloon, parachute or other aerial apparatus that shall take off from, operate within, or land within park property except in emergency law enforcement situations or when permission has been obtained from the Director.

(b) No person shall launch or operate any radio-controlled model rocket, airplane, glider, boat, car or similar vehicle without permission from the Director.

Sec. 1-10-20. - Firearms and Other Weapons.
(a) Having or carrying firearms or other weapons in parks shall be enforced as defined in O.C.G.A. § 16-11-126.

(b) No person shall shoot or otherwise discharge a firearm, weapon, bow, arrow or similar device from within the park, or into any park from beyond the boundaries of such park.

(c) Subject to the requirements of applicable state law, the Director may permit the possession and use of weapons in a park for recreational, educational, wildlife or natural resource management purposes, or other departmental functions under supervision, written guidelines or agreements.

Sec. 1-10-21. - Metal Detectors.
No person shall use a metal detector in any park except for official activities authorized by the Director.

Sec. 1-10-22. - Abandoned Property.
No person shall abandon a vehicle or other personal property in any park. Abandoned property shall be removed, impounded and sold in conformance to Athens-Clarke County ordinances, or as may be determined by the Unified Government.

Sec. 1-10-23. - Pets.
(a) Any persons bringing a pet into parks shall keep the pet on a leash and under his or her immediate personal supervision and control. Leashes used to control pets shall not be more than six (6) feet long. Dogs are allowed to be without a leash in park areas specifically designated as off-leash areas, provided that each dog therein remains under immediate personal supervision and control of a responsible person.

(b) No person shall bring a pet into an enclosed park building except those qualified as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or as part of an authorized program or event.

(c) Any pet not under the immediate personal supervision and control of a responsible person or any pet creating a disturbance or nuisance, may be restrained, confiscated or removed from the park by authorized personnel.

(d) No person shall permit a pet for which he or she is responsible to be in the water of a swimming pool or designated water play area, and no such person shall permit a pet except for those qualified as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to be within the land area or beach area adjacent to the water of a swimming pool or designated water play area. Pets are not permitted to enter any natural or constructed body of water except in areas dedicated for such purpose.
(e) Persons bringing pets onto park property are required to carry appropriate material to remove any fecal waste left by their pets except waste left by horses on designated horse trails.

(f) Current rabies and appropriate inoculation tags must be displayed on pets at all times. All horseback riders must carry proof of their horse’s negative Coggins’ test and display it to park personnel upon request.

(g) No person shall place, abandon or leave any pet or animal in a park.

Sec. 1-10-24. - Swimming and wading.
(a) No person shall swim, wade or play in any natural or built water area within a park except where specifically designated, and in compliance with such rules and regulations set by the Director.

Sec. 1-10-25. - Boating and fishing.
(a) No person shall launch or operate a vessel on park property except in areas designated for such use by the Director.

(b) No person shall rent, hire, or operate any vessel within park property for a commercial purpose unless so permitted by the Director.

(c) Vessels must be human powered or use electric motors only. Vessels equipped with internal combustion motors are allowed provided the motor is not used at any time, including launching, loading and unloading. This provision does not apply to vessels used for official functions or activities permitted by the Director.

(d) All boats, including rafts, canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device per person.

(e) All applicable state laws pertaining to boating, fishing and licensing may be enforced within park property, including possession of a current vessel registration and a valid State of Georgia fishing license.

(f) No person shall fish with any device other than a pole and line or rod and reel in any park except with permission of the Director.

Sec. 1-10-26. - Camping and overnight use.
No person may erect a tent or related shelter at any time to camp, sleep or park a vehicle overnight at any park or open space, except as authorized by permit, and only in areas designated or marked for such purpose.

Sec. 1-10-27. - Fires and firewood.
(a) No person may light, build or maintain a fire in any park except in a device provided, maintained or designated for such purposes, or as authorized by the Director.

(b) Grills are provided throughout the parks for patron use; use of any other grill or cooking equipment is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the Director.

(c) No person may cut, gather or collect wood or other combustible material at any park for use as firewood or fuel, unless authorized by the Director.

(d) Fires or lighted grills shall not be left unattended, and any person starting a fire shall not leave the area without extinguishing said fire.

(e) During periods when a fire hazard has been declared “high” or greater by the Georgia Forestry Commission or similar agency, the Director may prohibit or restrict fires in park areas.

Sec. 1-10-28. - Personal risk in natural areas.
Personal risks associated with the natural environment are inherent in parks. Native wild animals, poisonous plants, rough terrain and other natural conditions are considered a part of the visitor’s experience. Park staff will make reasonable efforts to forewarn users of natural areas where assumed risks might exist; however, park users are responsible for their own health and welfare regarding natural elements and other environmental conditions when they elect to enter such areas.

Sec. 1-10-29. - Natural resource protection and preservation.
(a) No person shall dig, cut, break, move, excavate, disturb, remove, destroy, harm or tamper with, nor carry within, any soil, rocks, trees, shrubs, plants, mushrooms, down-timber or other wood or materials without authorization from the Director.

(b) No person shall harm, harass, disturb the breeding grounds or habitat of, hunt, trap or remove any animal, including mammals, fish, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians or any other living creature, including eggs and nests, from any park except upon authorization of the Director. This sub-section shall not apply to fish caught by an individual in possession of a valid Georgia fishing license fishing in an area designated for this activity, in accordance with state fishing regulations.

(c) No person shall feed any non-domesticated animal in any park unless authorized by the Director.

(d) Park properties that are primarily in their natural state, yet provide some means of access for visitors, shall be maintained to protect the environment as well as the user.

Sec. 1-10-30. - Pollution of waters.
(a) No person shall throw, discharge, disturb or otherwise place or cause to be placed in the waters of any fountain, pond, lake, river, stream, or other body of water within park property any substance, matter or thing, liquid or solid, which will or may result in the pollution of said waters.

(b) No person shall bury, discharge or intentionally dispose of a toxic or hazardous substance in parks or on park property, or the State waters found therein.

Sec. 1-10-31. - Smoking.
No person shall smoke in parks per Sec. 4-3-2 of the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Code of Ordinances.

Sec. 1-10-32. - Alcoholic Beverages.
(a) For purposes of this Section, alcoholic beverages are limited solely to beer and wine. Liquor is prohibited.

(b) Possessing, dispensing, distributing or consuming alcoholic beverages in parks is prohibited unless done so 1) in conjunction with an approved facility rental or special event permit from the Department; and 2) with an approved Department alcohol usage permit. The permit shall be approved in form by the Manager and signed by the Director.

(c) Alcohol shall be dispensed, distributed or consumed only in areas designated by the Manager.

(d) Any event open to the public in which alcohol will be dispensed, distributed or consumed requires the use of a licensed caterer pursuant to provisions of Sections 6-3-1 et seq. of the Code of Athens-Clarke County, and O.C.G.A. § 3-11-1 et seq.

Sec. 1-10-33. - Penalties.
Any violation of this Chapter shall be subject to penalties pursuant to Section 1-1-5 of the Code of Athens-Clarke County. Additionally, any person who violates any provision of this Chapter shall be subject to suspension of access to parks or being removed or ejected from parks without refund, as determined by the Director.

SECTION 2. All ordinances or parts of ordinance in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

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