LARGO, Fla. — After complaints of “unruly” teens at playgrounds, Largo Parks and Recreation officials have introduced a new ordinance placing age restrictions at playgrounds.
It’s a move that some parents, like Patrick Burke, support.
“These playgrounds are for kids,” Burke said. “This isn’t a place for teenagers or adults without kids to hang out.”
If the proposed ordinance is approved, no one older than 12 will be allowed in designated areas set up for children unless he or she is a parent, guardian or temporary custodian caring for a child.
Most of the parents ABC Action News spoke to support the ordinance; however, city commissioners are divided.
“There’s a lot of concern that we are doing this to drive teens away,” Joan Byrne said. “That’s really not the situation.”
Byrne is the director of Recreation, Parks and Arts for the city. She said this ordinance is needed because the city doesn’t have anything on the books that would allow law enforcement to step in if parents or young kids are having an issue with a teen or adult at a playground.
“This gives us an option to take care of or eliminate a situation that might make people feel uncomfortable or put kids in danger,” she said. “We have all kind of areas that are restricted for kinds of uses, certain kinds of age. The playground is no different.”
She said the city is not looking to ban teens from parks or even playgrounds. But, “on that rare when we need to have some assistance, we will have this ordinance in place.”
The ordinance passed its first reading with a four to three vote. The final public hearing and vote will be on July 6.