Columbia Star

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Forest Acres City Council discusses the problem of unsupervised toddlers in parks

The Forest Acres City Council on May 11 considered but then deferred, a motion to impose a minimum age for children to play unsupervised in its parks.

After city officials reported of “repeated” complaints by citizens who have observed “toddlers in diapers running around parks unsupervised,” the council discussed establishing a minimum benchmark age of eight but deferred the issue to city administrator Mark Williams for more research before deciding whether to take action.

“I agree children shouldn’t be able to run around lickity split all over the place,” said councilor Charles Fetner. “There should be some supervision.”

However, council members felt that several issues might be a challenge including the ability to enforce the ordinance and whether or not eight was an appropriate age to establish for a child to play without adult supervision.

After some discussion, the council asked Williams to investigate state statutes regarding an established acceptable age for unsupervised children and return with some more information at June’s monthly meeting.

The council also passed on first reading, with little discussion, the proposed city’s 2011 fiscal budget, which is about five percent below the previous year’s. Williams said that revenue is down significantly in the areas of interest payments, court revenues, and building permit fees, but he expects that as the economy recovers, those fees will rebound. He said he was not expecting to request a tax increase.

During the second hearing on June 8, the public will have a chance to comment, and the council revisions to the budget can be made, according to Williams.

The council also approved maintaining a recently installed street light in the back parking lot of Zoe’s, which has been victimized by several armed robbers in the past few months.

In other business, the council:

• passed on second reading ordinances that will strengthen building codes, slightly expand the city, and change the composition of the planning commission to allow one non–resident on the panel. After a public hearing where no comment was offered from either the public or council, the body passed on second reading an ordinance that would incorporate a new set of standards for building codes.

It also approved on second reading an ordinance that would annex into the city a small parcel of land located in the southwestern corner of the intersection of Longbrook Road and Decker Boulevard.

The council • listened to an update on the city’s long–awaited clock project. A low bid of $45,308 was awarded to Tyler Construction, which stands ready to start its installation immediately.

• heard an update on the Forest Acres Farmer’s Market, which opened April 28, and now has more than 25 vendors participating. The market is open from 3–7 p.m. rain or shine every Wednesday on the rooftop at Richland Mall. For more information, visit www.farmersintheforest. org. There is no fee for vendors.

• got a report on the parade of homes, scheduled for October but has now been pushed back to April of 2011. After some discussion, the council verbally committed to its support of the event but said that organizers would have to make a formal presentation before it officially throws its support behind the event.

In attendance at the meeting were Councilmen Georgia Dukes, Charles W. Fetner, Curtis Rye Jr., Shell Suber, and Mayor Frank J. Brunson.

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