A proposal to change the hours for Woodward Park is not a done deal.

A proposal to change the hours for Woodward Park is not a done deal.

Although members of the Forest Park Civic Association took an informal vote at their Sept. 11 meeting in favor of changing hours for the park off Karl Road from sunrise to sunset, a contingent of residents feels strongly that the request is an overreaction to an incident of vandalism, one that may have unintended consequences.

"We have not received the official request," said Brian J. Hoyt, communications and marketing manager for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. "They did ask for the policy and procedure for making the request."

A sign posted at the park states that the park closes at 11 p.m.

Association President Ed Vanasdale said after the September session that he believes 90 percent of members back the restricted hours after fake gang graffiti was discovered on dugouts at the park's baseball field, but member R. Scott Prigan said he believes the support is far from that strong.

"While there was much discussion, and many were initially favorably inclined, as the discussion continued, there was a growing sentiment against curtailing hours," he wrote in an email to Recreation and Parks officials which he shared with ThisWeek Northland News. "If anyone claims to have (the association's) endorsement for such curtailment, such is not the case."

Vanasdale said he sent the results of the informal poll, as well as the issues of concern raised by Prigan and others, to Columbus police officer Scott Clinger, the liaison to one of the precincts that covers the Northland area.

At the Sept. 11 Forest Park Block Watch session prior to the regular meeting, Clinger said requests to restrict hours at parks carry considerable weight if they come from liaison officers.

"As far as where it is at this time, the information was passed along," Vanasdale said last week

He said he hopes the issue comes up for consideration at this week's Northland Community Council meeting and again at the next Forest Park Civic Association meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Epworth United Methodist Church, 5100 Karl Road.

Vanasdale said he had heard from a Recreation and Parks tennis instructor that closing Woodward Park at sunset would pose a problem for the current lesson schedule.

In his email to the city department, Prigan listed concerns that he indicated he and others believe may weigh against the value of closing the park at dark.

"This could establish another source of confrontation with police, endangering youth and sending the wrong message about desired community relationships," he wrote.

"Should people be involved in illegal activity, there are existing remedies without denying all the pleasure of our park."

Prigan also mentioned that a sunset closing would render the lighted tennis courts pointless.

He suggested improving the lighting within the park and the addition of a "graffiti board system where boards/walls are provided for such expression, which is then expected to be reserved for such areas."