Seven years after Pigeon Point Park reopened as a family-friendly area on what once was a rundown lot, it's success can be seen on the faces of dozens of children on any given Saturday afternoon as they play or celebrate birthdays.
But frequent use can mean trash, overcrowding and safety hazards. City employees brought their concerns to Beaufort City Council on Tuesday, seeking guidance on rules and regulations to combat those problems.
"We are going to instill rules for every park because we're having problems with people not using their minds," Councilwoman Donnie Beer said Wednesday during a neighborhood meeting with residents.
Problems arise at other parks, too, so city staff wants to create a list of rules that would work for all locations, parks superintendent Liza Hill said. The city started Tuesday by asking if it could require residents to apply to use the parks for events. A deposit submitted with such an application could be used if trash was left behind or equipment was damaged, staff said.
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The deposit provide a financial incentive for people to clean up and take care of the parks, Hill said.
Council members said they were more interested in rules that could be enforced by police and staff, rather than requiring people to fill out applications and submit deposits.
"I don't know how you enforce it when somebody shows up on a Saturday afternoon to have a birthday party," Councilman George O'Kelley Jr. said.
General rules suggested by staff include no cooking or open burning, no smoking on playgrounds and no balloons.
While council members agreed there shouldn't be fires or cooking at the parks, the balloons clause made Councilman Mike McFee perk up.
"You can't have a birthday party without balloons," he said. "That's a crock. Let's just get that out."
Beer called them an environmental hazard.
Mayor Billy Keyserling wanted Pigeon Point residents, who built the park with "sweat equity" and through fundraisers, to have priority and not be pushed out by others.
In addition to children's birthday parties and social events, tour buses stop at the park, and Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services uses it during the summer for its day camp for children, staff said.
"I hate more rules, but doggone it, it's not for the people who obey and use good manners and good sense; it's for the people who don't," Beer said.