I am writing to oppose the misguided ordinance, Council Bill No. 1939, proposed by the City of DuBois, which is set to pass on June 10, 2019 at its regularly scheduled meeting.
The ordinance seeks to ban a number of activities in “city recreational areas.” Some of which make sense, such as prohibitions on people camping in the park, the possession of firearms, drugs or engaging in gambling.
However, several of the activities proposed to be banned include riding bicycles in the park and walking dogs in the park, two favorite activities of many people when the warm weather rolls around.
If the ordinance passes, there will be no more outings to walk your dog on the Beaver Meadow Walkway or weekends riding bicycles in the park with your child or grandchild on a warm summer afternoon.
My son and I spent almost every day last summer riding bicycles on the walkway and through the park. Throughout our time, we did not see any people on bicycles or with dogs misusing the walkway, park or other facilities.
Every person I encountered who was walking on the trail, with or without a dog, and all people riding bicycles were courteous and responsible.
My family has lived happily in the City of Dubois for 11 years. One of my fondest memories was when my son attended a Bicycle Rodeo at the DuBois City amphitheater that was put on by the City of DuBois library last summer.
This is where he won his first bike—in the park. Do you know where he learned to ride his first bike? In the City of DuBois park, over the course of several warm summer weeks, as our own yard is too small.
We both have fond memories of bike riding and attending bike-related events in the city park.
I fear that our warm memories of summer in DuBois will be replaced by anger and dismay because the City Council engaged in unfair stereotyping of bicycle riders.
As a restriction of recreational activities on the major public space in the City of Dubois, this ordinance does not make sense.
With the rise of obesity afflicting our country, the city should be more active in encouraging its citizens to engage in physical activity and physical fitness.
Also, the decline of population in the City of DuBois is a result of both an aging population and the moving away of younger people to bigger cities.
Removing the park as a place for active recreation like biking and dog walking/jogging seems likely to cause young, successful people to flee for places without shortsighted restrictions such as these.
Pittsburgh, for example, has so many amenities, and will also allow families to walk dogs and ride bicycles in their parks. They even have bike lanes, unlike DuBois.
In fact, DuBois has no bike lanes and bike riding is prohibited on the sidewalks. DuBois will now be effectively requiring children to ride their bicycles in the streets for exercise and recreation purposes. A dangerous situation all in all as these streets are incredibly narrow and drivers drive fast.
We need to make DuBois an attractive place for people to live. The park is a valuable and beautiful place for families to congregate and enjoy on a sunny summer day.
It is one of the places that make DuBois special and attracts visitors and potential residents to our small, out of the way city.
We should be doing as much as possible to attract more people, if we are to see a population increase (including new construction and growing tax rosters) rather than a decline in residents.
The park can also make DuBois an attractive place economically. Instead of banning bicycles and dogs, the city should be increasing the presence of places for families to ride bicycles and to walk dogs.
Did you know that the Beaver Meadow Walkway is listed on the TrailLink Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Web site as a five-star trail and that people actually come here to ride?
Do you realize that people who visit here are likely to spend money here? We should be encouraging local companies such as Planet Bike or others, to begin a bike rental on the walkway.
We should be building additional trails for dogs and their owners to jog and walk and view the beautiful expanses of open space, the variety of wildlife, and natural resources available to us here in our City of DuBois.
We should expand the park, both physically and in its usage for the good of the city and the community to make us all stronger—economically, mentally and physically and for our futures.
Dr. Courtney A. Shepard