Let's keep paint ball safe for everyone

Posted: Tuesday, April 04, 2000

The Empire's recent paint ball article deserves a grade of incomplete, as it left out important information regarding paint ball use at Sandy Beach.

First, the reporter should have let readers know the game that took place was against current park rules. This is not a case of the city ``making it hard'' for paint ball players, but rather the players showing up with a new activity that broke the existing rule against any device that fires a missile (also air guns, slingshots, etc.) from being used in city parks. The city park department confirmed that this includes Sandy Beach Recreation Area, including the Treadwell Historic Area. I'm glad to see that the paint ball players are choosing to take the positive step of working with the city, rather than just continuing to ignore current rules.

Second, Brian Weed's statements about the games were very different from what I've seen in the park. He stated people would be safe as long as they stayed on the trails. My house sits adjacent to the Treadwell Historic Trail, and I observed numerous paint ball games from my living room window and yard last year. On all occasions I observed, the players played on and immediately around the main trail leading down from St. Ann's. If they are firing down and across the trails, I don't see how he can assume those trails are safe for me to take my non-helmeted and non-goggled 2-old daughter to run and play on. I've also found paint balls in my yard and have even had to ask paint ball players to leave my backyard (which is separated from the park by a steel 15-foot high bank).

The key to paint ball players using the city parks is to keep it safe for all park users. I would support the paint ball players efforts to get a separate area set aside, providing it is used during specific times or that signs stating ``game in progress'' were posted. Plus the games should not interfere with the ability of others, especially children, to use the trails in the park to safely access the beach and the playground area.

Another alternative would be to work with the city to find some of the city's other ample land holdings for this activity.

In the meantime, it would help the paint ball players' cause if they were willing to play away from the main trails and the homes adjacent to the park, And please, keep your game out of my yard.

James Sheufelt

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