There’s a time to play and a time not to play

Dear Editor:
Recently I wrote of Ordinance 35:95, one that you find posted on the municipal parks throughout Union City. Two signs are attached to the fencing on the chemically dyed soccer field at 2nd and New York Avenue, park land leased to the city. From November to March the hours “all parks shall be open to the public” are 9 to 6 p.m. but anyone coming to the field will find people playing well past 6 p.m. on weekdays/ends during these months and the Union City Police Department does not enforce these hours even though the sign reads: “Anyone who violates this Ordinance shall be prosecuted.” I don’t fault the police department. Former Police Chief Everett (to whom I wrote about this issue) informed me that Mayor Stack was allowing people to play until 9 p.m. regardless of the ordinance’s stipulation. It should be noted that county workers close the Washington Park playgrounds, swimming area, basketball courts, and tennis courts on schedule. DPW or UCPD close the municipal parks on time. But a select group of players are allowed to continue to play even after the official closing time in this Washington Park Soccer Field. Is this fair?
Just last Friday, adult players continued playing past 9 p.m. and would continue to do so until police arrived and flashed their lights. You can’t get to sleep when you have to get up very early the next day because these players are selfishly and inconsiderately only thinking of themselves and not the residents who live in the neighborhood. They scream, curse, and heckle each other throughout the evening and sometimes they kick the ball out into the street or it lands on a parked car or nearly hits a dog walker or breaks a window. I say again to the Board of Commissioners and Mayor Stack, enforce this ordinance. By the way, I thank the coaches and parents who come out to play with the little ones either late afternoon or early evening. This soccer field was built for them and they have fun and cause no undue disturbance. It’s a joy to watch the children learning futbol (soccer) and to see the help they get from coaches and how excited they become when they hit their first goal. Gol! Gol! Gol! This non-regulation size soccer field was never intended for adults but they now monopolize it to even the exclusion of the public and in contradiction to the ordinance’s own announcement of public access. Nobody even thought to have the field lights on a timer so that at closing time the lights would automatically go off. This is the procedure in Jersey City’s Washington Park. Their fields are on timers. They have a permit system which is enforced. All eyes are on Mayor Stack and the Board of Commissioners. Fairness to the public and respect to the residents around the soccer field must prevail. Consistent application and enforcement of this Ordinance must be upheld.

Tony Squire

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