New rules keep fields closed except for sports team use
November 28, 2017
By Bill Wilson
The Anniston Star

The city of Heflin’s sports fields will remain closed to the public when they’re not in use by the city’s sport leagues. The City Council approved a wide-ranging ordinance which enacts a new set of rules and regulations for all city parks Tuesday night.

The vote was not unanimous as Councilman Shannon Roberts cast the only vote against the ordinance. Roberts wanted residents to be able to enjoy the sports fields when they weren’t in use by organized teams — particularly, he said, on the weekends.

The ordinance specifies that the fields will be locked up when not in use, and that if a group or individual wants to use them, they would need to get approval of the director of the city parks and recreation department.

Mayor Rudy Rooks said one option would be to hire two part-time employees to supervise the fields on the weekends. Residents would have to sign in to use the fields.

The problem with leaving the field gates open and unsupervised on the weekends is that it opens the city to liability if a person is injured, according to PARD director Tammy Perry. During the discussions, Perry said the city was successfully sued in the past when a person claimed he was injured on a football field. The reason the city lost the case was that the gate to the field had been left unlocked, according to Perry. Perry said she does not know of any other public entity that intentionally leaves its fields unlocked when they are not in use.

The ordinance also establishes a curfew — it’s now unlawful to remain in the city’s parks outside the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m unless the fields are in use. The walking track may be used from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The ordinance also includes the following:
  • Except for police officers it is unlawful to carry firearms, hunting knives, chains, clubs or slingshots into the parks.
  • Smoking on city park grounds is not permitted.
  • It’s unlawful to consume or possess alcoholic beverages in the parks.
  • It’s unlawful to clean, wash or polish automobiles or motorcycles.
  • It’s unlawful to deface in any manner any tree, rock, building, monument, fence, sidewalk, parking lot, bench or table.
Also during the work session, Councilman Travis Crowe said he wants the city to consider offering a reward to catch the people who have been pulling up stop signs and vandalizing the city’s Christmas lights.

“I’m 100 percent support of it,” said Heflin Police Chief A. J. Benefield.

Benefield said he believes the culprits are juveniles.

Rooks told Benefield, Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith and the city’s lawyer to study the issue.

Rooks said the Small Business Saturday held last Saturday was positive.

“We had a ton of people in town,” Rooks said.

Rooks said he didn’t recognize many of the people who came into town for the shopping day, which he considered a good thing as people from out of town spent their dollars in Heflin.

Rooks announced the council meetings for December which will all be at 5:30 p.m.:

— Dec. 5 work session

— Dec. 12 council meeting

— Dec. 26 council meeting

Rooks said on December 9 the city will have  a holiday celebration called Holidays on Ross from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the Christmas parade will be that night at 6 p.m.