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Keeping our parks safe & clean
Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

I welcome the longer daylight hours and milder weather. I have already seen lots of park users in Ceres and other local communities; they have been having BBQs, volleyball games, bounce houses are popping up again and we are just weeks away from summer-like weather.

Ceres is blessed with 14 parks, comprised of 148 acres total. At the same time, they are costly to maintain, some people trash our parks and acts of vandalism are an ongoing problem. Another concern is people driving cars into the park and causing damage to grass and sprinklers.

Parks and sports fields are the gems of any community. They can be among the best places to be - or among the worst - depending on what community members demand of them. And working hand-in-hand with the police, everyone can enjoy parks that are clean and safe for the whole family. Keeping gangs from using parks as a gathering place is a priority, as is making sure that park rules are adhered to.

And a message to the gangs: You will not be taking over our parks. Any "takeover" will be by law-abiding people who have rightful access to all public parks, along with having the expectation to be free from harassment and intimidation. The police will see to, with the public's help, that the parks will be used as intended by our city fathers and community members alike. One of the best methods to keep our parks safe and suitable for family use is for law-abiding residents to use them frequently and dominate them. All actual crimes and suspicious activities in the parks need to be reported to the police without delay.

A clean park reflects community pride and that people will be quick to report acts of littering and other forms of misconduct to the police. Code enforcement and police personnel will be quick to cite persons who litter or leave trash behind after their day's activities. Alcohol in the local parks is illegal, with exceptions only made by a special [limited] permit issued by the Chief of Police. Alcohol has been a factor in most instances of fights or other problems in the parks. Intoxicated people are more likely to litter, fight and create disturbances. Since our parks are intended for family-oriented activities, alcohol and other drugs are prohibited and violations will be strictly enforced.

Vehicles are never allowed in our parks, except for police, fire, medical and city crews. Only drive on designated roadways and in the parking lots. Driving on the lawns and pathways is prohibited, and there is no exception for setting up picnic areas, etc.

Dogs must be on a leash at all times for safety reasons, especially insofar as children are concerned. Also, dog fights are common and very dangerous when their handlers are unable to control them. It is important for pet owners to be responsible for their animals, as dog feces is also a problem in our parks. Pet owners must clean-up after their pets without delay.

It is the city's goal to ensure that parks are safe places, clean and friendly places for the people and visitors to our community. The city of Ceres committed to achieving its goal and in preparation for the upcoming summer, we are taking steps now to ensure the parks can be enjoyed in safety these next months before winter sets in.