published Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Chattanooga: Council bans minors from Coolidge Park at set times

by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    The Tennessee River at Coolidge Park. Staff File Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press


* No one under the age of 18 is allowed to use the park between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

* Must be under the supervision of a parent, legal guardian or adult 21 and over.

* Effective immediately.

Source: City of Chattanooga

Children not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult over the age of 21 are now banned from going to Coolidge Park during certain hours of the night.

The Chattanooga City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday night to ban minors from going into the park without supervision from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., effective immediately.

“We need to send a message to the parents, not the children,” Mayor Ron Littlefield told council members just minutes before their vote.

Councilmen Russell Gilbert and Andraé McGary voted against the ordinance on its second and final reading. Both councilmen said there were problems all over the city, just not at one park. They said the ordinance should be expanded throughout the city.

“What is good enough for Coolidge Park is good enough for everyone,” McGary said.

Council members debated the resolution last week with some saying it should be citywide. The city attorney’s office tweaked the language of the ordinance over the week putting in specific times and expanding the language of who would be allowed to supervise minors.

Littlefield also addressed another concern of council members: where the children would be placed once police pick them up and try to locate their parents. Littlefield said the city was in the midst of renovating the South Chattanooga Recreation Center on 40th Street to become a juvenile detention facility.

He said the cost would be around $5,000 to $6,000 for the renovations.

Littlefield said the city was working on the facility “right now.”

“We could conceivably have it working by this weekend, but certainly next weekend,” he said.

One question raised by Councilwoman Deborah Scott was legal liability concerning constitutional rights.

City Attorney Mike McMahan acknowledged there could be issues. He said any law that affects people’s “right to assembly” could be challenged. But he said such things as specific times on when they could and could not assemble, as well as police officers using their own discretion could limit such a lawsuit.

“We’re trying to be careful,” he said.

During the council’s Legal and Legislative Committee, Councilman Peter Murphy asked Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd if the ordinance would be an “adequate tool” to deal with the problem and if the changes made any difference to police enforcement.

“It’s still the same tool that’s necessary,” Dodd replied.

Councilwoman Sally Robinson also asked if that meant children using the park for such things as photos for graduation or prom could be picked up and taken to the juvenile detention facility.

“There is some officer’s discretion,” Dodd said.

Will a curfew for minors deter you from visiting Coolidge Park?
  • Yes. 17%
  • No. 83%

173 total votes.

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bandmom said...

Once again the actions of a small group of thugs will cause the loss of freedom for the majority of good kids who might be in the park, especially during the spring and summer when it is daylight well past 6pm. The law abiding citizens will follow the rules and the trouble makers won't care - so they win.

March 30, 2011 at 7:24 a.m.
dao1980 said...

This does seem like an amateur move.

And to think, we all hope to have pro's in charge of making these decisions... oh well.

March 30, 2011 at 8:41 a.m.
Let0boy said...

It's well and good measure. During the second incident I was there with my infant. It was nerve wrecking to see these hoards of children all over the place throwing objects from the bridge down to park. Thankfully an a CPD foot officer was very polite in trying to stop the whole thing. Then the next day I heard about the gunfire. Geeezzz I said how can I go back to the park with these kind of incidents.

March 30, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.
DoN2Much said...

well from my understanding it was a pellet or bb gun right? so that is good to know and not an actual gun but still i dont think closing the park for 18 and under is a good idea... most of these kids are at least 25 and under and those are the ones that have the 18 and under doing stupid things in the city so what good is that going to do anyone. watch and see how problems still arise and it wont be from 18yo kids its going to be the older ones... doesnt make sense for everyone to suffer b/c of some unruly kids. the city and cpd need to be able to handle these few little kids and let everyone else with sense enjoy their city!!

March 30, 2011 at 10:54 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Uh oh, watch out errebody, some one left the freak show door unlocked. It's going to be interesting to see what ridiculous racist dribble will be spewed across the public forum now.

That's right notdog, you are truly an embarrassment to people of any skin color. Red, green, black, white, yellow, it does not matter. Just knowing we are all of the same species as you is enough to make anyone go all "face in palm" or "bow and shake head".

But, since now I have thrown you a bone, I guess I'll sit back and laugh hysterically at what words you decide make up next (in all caps of course) to express your upseted-ness with me for my opinion.

March 30, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
dao1980 said...

Hilarious! What an imagination, and so eloquent!

March 30, 2011 at 4:14 p.m.
cartman said...

Banning children from a park? This might be the best idea the city has ever had. If they can't stop kids from acting like criminals then punish them for being kids. BRILLIANT!

March 30, 2011 at 9:06 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Hey, hotdog...maybe you should campaign so passionately for cleaning up Woodlawn Apartments.

@the city council members...I am confused...what is the age of majority in this state...18 or 21? I know the answer but apparently they don't.

March 30, 2011 at 10:13 p.m.
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