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Bloomington Mayor, Council Candidate Disagree On Parks Law

Bloomington’s mayor says he does not envision the city council enacting a law to prevent protests like the Occupy Bloomington movement currently inhabiting a downtown park.  But at least one council hopeful says he would support such a measure.

Though Bloomington city parks close at 11 p.m. each night and police are allowed by park rule to either force remainders out or charge them with trespassing, Occupy Bloomington participants have been left alone.  Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Mayor Mark Kruzan says he envisions it staying that way because the city council appears unlikely to pass a law defining who can inhabit public parks at what times.

“I don’t think you’ll see any effort to try to more strictly define or to take rule and codify it as law,” Kruzan says. “You know, I think the beauty of the system as it is right now is that there is discretion built into it.”

“If my wife and I wanted to start camping out in Bryan Park tonight and then invite our friends, I have a feeling that would not go over too well,” says Council At-Large candidate Ed Schwartzman.  “I don’t think we could just start camping out in parks; we are a city of law.”

Schwartzman says while he supports the right of groups to assemble, he would also support an ordinance which would more strictly define attendance at city parks.

“If there’s not a law on the books about how we use our public parks – that you have to exit the park at dusk or at public signs – then obviously that’s something regardless of this movement, there should be one,” he says.

Kruzan and Parks and Recreation Director Mick Renneisen have said the Occupy movement is a special case.  The mayor says he doesn’t believe letting the park’s current tenants stay overnight will lead to other groups routinely seeking the same hospitality.

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