NORTH OGDEN -- After an overwhelming response from residents and discussion among council members, the city council here will leave parks open on Sundays for now.
About 40 people turned out for the Tuesday night meeting.
Councilman Wade Bigler wanted to discuss the issue of closing parks on Sunday after he said several residents complained about the noise from recent Sunday soccer league play in Orton Park.
La Liga soccer league has been playing at Orton Park for several months, and City Manager Ron Chandler recently approached league director Ruben Alvarez and told him the league needed to pay park fees and reserve the park.
Alvarez paid $120 to reserve the park for the season from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sundays.
Alvarez said he didn't know the issue would be discussed Tuesday night until he was contacted by the media.
He said he was told by the city manager that if there were any issues with his league, he would be contacted by someone in the city.
He said he was never contacted.
"I thought if we were going to be kicked out, it would be for trash, so I make sure that we clean up the trash before we play and before we leave. The park is always cleaner than we found it when we leave," he said.
Alvarez said he has even mowed the grass and fertilized the lawn at the park.
Bigler contends that residents feel like they need a break from the soccer noise at least one day of the week
He also said people who aren't living in the city shouldn't be able to use the park on Sundays and infringe on the rights of the people who are paying taxes in North Ogden.
"At what point can we step in and protect the lifestyle of our residents?" Bigler said.
After the discussion, Alvarez said many of the kids who play in La Liga live in North Ogden.
No other council members said they had heard complaints from residents about this issue, but said they would be contacting the residents around the park to get their views.
City Attorney Jon Call told the council that if people perceive that the city is closing the park for religious reasons, it won't be a good idea.
Many residents spoke about the issue being a religious one, and some who stated that they are LDS said they are comfortable with the idea of people, especially kids, using the park.
Resident Julie Anderson said, "I ask that you respect all members of the city. These parks are for the people. I think the Lord will respect our decisions as to how we take our Sabbath."
"I feel like this is a sounding board for your faith," said resident Brent Code.
"You guys are opening yourselves up for lawsuits, and that's a waste of our tax dollars."
Councilman Justin Fawson said the only way it could be approached is if the city restricted all leagues from outside the city.
Bigler advised the council members that if they aren't careful, soon many leagues will come in from outside the city and fill the parks on Sundays because the parks are available.
He also said the park's grass should get a rest one day a week, because the parks are used all the other days.
Mayor Richard Harris suggested they let the issue rest and see what happens.