Board of Aldermen Considers to Change Park Ordinance

By Amanda Raus
|  Saturday, Jan 11, 2014  |  Updated 3:36 PM EDT
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Symbolically burning a copy of New Haven's proposed park ordinance showed what the Amistad Catholic Worker House thinks of the ordinance changes that the Board of Aldermen will be taking up this year.  Among the changes are limiting the hours the New Haven green would be open and prohibiting people from staying there overnight.

Amanda Raus, Chris Podosek

Symbolically burning a copy of New Haven's proposed park ordinance showed what the Amistad Catholic Worker House thinks of the ordinance changes that the Board of Aldermen will be taking up this year. Among the changes are limiting the hours the New Haven green would be open and prohibiting people from staying there overnight.

Symbolically burning a copy of New Haven's proposed park ordinance showed what the Amistad Catholic Worker House thinks of the ordinance changes that the Board of Aldermen will be taking up this year.  Among the changes are limiting the hours the New Haven green would be open and prohibiting people from staying there overnight.

“Sleeping overnight in the other city parks is already prohibited and the City is seeking to take away the last refuge of some of our community members,” said Sarah Raven, a member of the Amistad Catholic Worker House.

The Amistad Catholic Worker House is worried about what will happen to the homeless after the city shelters close for the winter.

“This park ordinance will criminalize people who are homeless and sleep on the green,” said Raven.

They also say that the ordinance is too broad and would make it more difficult for anyone to gather on the green, because they would need to have permits and pay fees.  It would potentially prevent another movement like Occupy New Haven from setting up shop like it did in 2012.

Laurence Grotheer, Director of Communications for Mayor Toni Harp, said, "The proposed ordinance amendments regarding the City's parks and open spaces were drafted and submitted while the previous administration was still in office.  Officials of the new administration have not yet had an opportunity to review them but will do so as the amendments move through the legislative process."

Still, people who use the New Haven green aren't on board with the new proposed rules.

“I really don't think it would work because you're infringing on people's right, they have the right to assemble,” said Stephen Smith of Meriden.

“Do something about the homeless people first.  Get them a place to stay,” said Jesse Toro of New Haven.

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