Library, tennis courts, ballfields designated as Fowler Park

The city of Milford has a new park.

But not really.

Earlier this month, the Board of Aldermen voted to designate the area including the Fowler building, pavilion, Founder’s Walk, ballfield and the Milford Public Library as “Fowler Park,” and to attach rules that apply to other city parks to the newly designated Fowler Park.

The newly designated park also includes the boat ramp, tennis courts, playground, basketball courts and all the parking areas associated with those amenities.

The new designation means that people using the area have to follow the same rules they do at other city parks and beaches.

There is no drinking of alcohol, unless you’re at an event like the Irish Festival and Oyster Festival, which will have permits that allow the consumption of alcohol. There is no cigarette smoking.

Pets are not allowed at Fowler Park, though Shipyard Lane runs through the park and people can still walk their dogs on leashes along the road, according to Mayor Ben Blake.

A Park, Beach and Recreation Commission permit will be needed for public gatherings, and despite the preponderance of geese on the ballfields, bothering birds in the park is prohibited.

The ordinance also bans the use of abusive, profane or indecent language, or any conduct that may be offensive to the general public.

The hours for Fowler Park are sunrise to 9 p.m., though the ordinance notes that people can still use the tennis courts until 10:30 p.m., and the city dock and boat ramp have their own established hours.

Wilcox Park, which is adjacent to the new Fowler Park, is already a city park, identified in city ordinance as largely a bird and wildlife sanctuary.

Police can issue citations to people violating the rules at Fowler Park: Those infractions come with a $90 fine.

Mayor Blake said there have been a lot of improvements to the area in the past years, including upgraded tennis courts, a new playground, and Founder’s Walk, and so it made sense to designate the area as a park.

“Everyone assumed it was a park,” Blake said. “It has all the park attributes.”

City Attorney Jon Berchem says residents shouldn’t really notice any difference. He said the park designation really just brings “a multitude of activities under one umbrella.”

There was some concern when the park designation went before the Board of Aldermen Dec. 3 as an amendment to an existing ordinance.

According to meeting minutes, Alderman Nick Veccharelli expressed concern with the inclusion of the boat ramp in Fowler Park, but the mayor pointed out that the ordinance will not affect hours of operation there.

Alderman Anthony Giannattasio said he thought there were too many parts to make the area one cohesive park.

But minutes note that Blake responded that the measure is a housekeeping matter that clarifies the hours of the park.

Alderman Jeremy Grant expressed concern with the ban on pets from the athletic fields, play area, parking area and the boat ramp.

According to meeting minutes, Park, Beach and Recreation Director Paul Piscitelli said animals are not allowed in most of those areas anyway, such as the tennis course, ballfields and basketball courts.

Alderman Ray Vitali expressed concern with enforcement and the ability to be out of the park at a specific time. He said more thought needed to go into the ordinance, and suggested postponing a vote on the amendment. A vote to postpone failed, however.

Alderman Bryan Anderson, while he voted for the amendment along with the other board members present, said he still has some concerns. “My concern going forward are the requirements under state statutes that determine how municipal parks are managed, how they can be expanded, contracted, replaced, or altered over time. We don’t have the research nor the answers,” Anderson said.