Pay To Play at Park

(WSVN) - “Go outside and play.” Remember being told that by your parents? But were you ever told as a kid if you want to play at a park, you have to pay to play? That’s exactly what happened to these kids, and it’s why the call went out to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It’s summer time. Time for kids to relax and, of course, have fun.

Nicholas Cabello, pay to play at park: “Like swimming, playing baseball, football, basketball and wiffle ball.”

Nicholas’ mother loves seeing her son playing outside because it sure beats seeing him sitting inside all day.

Adelita Cabello, boys kicked out of park: “I’d rather he be doing that at the park playing with his friends than on the PS4 all day long.”

Fortunately, Coconut Creek has several nice parks, and Nicholas and his friends like to play wiffle ball at Sable Pines Park.

Adelita Cabello: “One kid in particular created a group text, and he said, ‘You know, let’s go to the park.'”

On a recent Sunday, Adelita dropped Nicholas off at the park to play wiffle ball with 10 or 12 other kids. They didn’t play long.

Nicholas Cabello: “They said, ‘We are going to cite you for trespassing with the police because you can’t be here.'”

Coconut Creek city employees had forced the kids to stop playing.

Adelita Cabello: “They are going to call the cops on the kids and cite them for trespassing for playing a game of wiffle ball?”

Adelita thought it was a misunderstanding and went to talk to the city employees.

Adelita Cabello: “‘You guys just kicked the kids off the field and said that they needed to get a permit to play?’ And they said, ‘Yes, because if it’s an organized league…'”

There are signs at the park that say you need a permit to play, but Adelita thought that meant adults playing in an organized league. Not 12 or 13-year-olds who now have to show a photo ID and apply for a permit each time they want to play.

Adelita Cabello: “And the permit is $30.”

A $30 permit each time the kids want to play wiffle ball. The kids reaction?

Nicholas Cabello: “They said it was ridiculous.”

Adelita’s reaction?

Adelita Cabello: “It was upsetting to me.”

And Howard, the legal reaction: Do kids who want to get together at a park have to pay $30 for a permit each time they want to play at the park?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: “In this case, no, they do not. There is nothing more American than kids going outside and playing ball. Because they agreed to wear the same colored shirts, and some parents were watching, does not make it an organized league. It’s just kids playing, and some city official made a really bad judgement call.”

We spoke to a Coconut Creek city official.

He said, “Everyday, children and adults come and play pick-up type games or practice with a few people. At no time do we tell these patrons they cannot play. We will, however, approach players if we think they have a paid trainer or there are a large group of people there.”

That’s why the city stopped the boys from playing because, according to Coconut Creek, there were about 20 people there including spectators.

The kids say those spectators were their parents, but it’s all cleared up, and Nicholas and his friends can play wiffle ball whenever they want.

Howard Finkelstein: “Coconut Creek and every other city needs to make their laws crystal clear, so their employees and their citizens know what they can and cannot do, so kids can play without being told they are committing a crime.”

So what did Nicolas’ friends say when they found out his mother went to bat for them?

Nicholas Cabello: “They thought my mom was crazy.”

That’s a compliment — I think. And how does Adelita feel about standing up for the kids?

Adelita Cabello: “So it was nice to know that after you made your phone call that they were willing to work with us, and it makes us feel more comfortable that the kids have a place to play.”

Glad they can play ball whenever they want.

Now, if a government employee tells you something, and you think they are wrong, don’t take their word for it. Talk to their boss and their boss’ boss. Talk to your elected officials until you get things cleared up.

Striking out trying to solve a problem? Tired of playing ball with them? Pitch it to us and see if we hit it out of the park for you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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