Was that so hard? Of course it wasn’t.
Last week, the Riverside Village Board erased a picnic and fishing ban that had been on the books for at least the past 30 years. The board made the change in part because it was in keeping with the spirit of the village’s comprehensive plan, which called for Riverside to be – and probably more importantly, be perceived as — a more welcoming place.
What we suspect will happen – something also predicted by Trustee Joseph Ballerine during the final discussion of the change last week – is that residents will see virtually no difference from the way the village’s parks are already being used.
Kids already fish along the banks. Maybe more will. We don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing, and the village’s Parks and Recreation Department will be working on a program to encourage proper fishing etiquette and safety. One might look at kids sitting along the banks of the river during the summer and conclude, “Gosh, Riverside looks like a fun place.” Imagine.
One of the bigger fears aired during the run up to this change was that allowing picnics would result in large crowds of people bringing loud music, trash and grills with them, upsetting the tranquility of the village.
But, the fact is the village already hosts large groups of people in its parks – at the Scout Cabin, where there are facilities for grilling and using a fire pit. That’s not going to change under the new rules. If you have a large group, you need a permit to use the park. And if you want to picnic, there are specific parks where you can do that.
This shouldn’t be seen just as welcoming people from out of town to enjoy Riverside’s beautiful green spaces, it’s welcoming residents themselves to take advantage of these public spaces and enjoy them fully.
Frankly, we see no downside to lifting the bans. We just can’t believe it took so long to happen.