Today around noon I initiated a web search for the Dekalb County Georgia Parks Department. I wanted to contact them to learn how this park was regulated. While surfing the Parks Department Website, I found exactly what I wanted: This gem detailing the governing ordinances for Dekalb County Parks. I did not yet have the pictures, and I didn’t even know for certain that Dekalb County Parks had indeed posted the sign. So I was feeling my way in the dark to some extent. (I took the picture late this afternoon.)
However, it’s clear from the governing codes that bcycles are not forbidden from most Dekalb County parks, and when they are it’s a function of a specific ordinance – none of which apply to Mason Mills. In fact, the only provision for banning bcycles at all in DeKalb County Code is Book Code Section 19-32 Special Prohibitions which bans b*cycles in certain portions of Arabia Mountain.
Armed with this knowledge, I called the Parks Department. I first spoke with a woman who, while helpful enough, needed to get some more information. My pitch, which I repeated frequently over the next couple of hours in the most genial and polite way possible, was this:
“I’m interested in information on the trails at Mason Mills Park, where a sign was posted yesterday banning b*cycles. I have reviewed the governing ordinances on the Dekalb County Parks Department Website, and I can’t detemine which ordinance might have been used to designate this park off-limits to cyclists.”
A couple of times someone asked me if I was a mountain b*ker. I politely explained that, no, I was a unicyclist, and thereby uncertain if any of the ordinances were pertinent to me at all. But what I really wanted to know was what code was being applied…
It took the very helpful staff at the Parks Department several iterations:
a) to know exactly which park and entrance I was referring, and
b) to find someone from the field who knew something about the sign.
This is somewhat understandable since, at that time, I still wasn’t sure that Dekalk County Parks Department were responsible for the sign. Everyone I spoke with asked me if I was sure. I said no, sorry. I’m not sure. (My ignorance, while unintentional, may have been disarming and thereby helful.)
I spoke with three people, including a Deputy Director, each of whom was very cordial and tried to be helpful, before I received a call from the Security Coordinator. The Security Coordinator also, like everyone before, politely asked me if I had read the details on the sign. I apologetically said no yet again. Then he began his explanation.
He indicated that the sign was from Arabia Mountain, the relevant code was Section 19-32 but that it only applied to Arabia Mountain, that the bcycle ban was not in effect in Mason Mills, that the Parks Department did not want to discourage legal use of Dekalb County parks, and that [b]the sign would be altered or changed to remove the languange baning bicycles[/b].
I silently screamed YES! and pumped my arm in victory to my wife who passed by in the hall!
I spoke with him briefly about the problematic neighbor. He most professionally declined to comment on who may or may not have complained, but politely enquired as to why I didn’t use one of the other entrances. I said I lived in the neighborhood only a few blocks away, and it was the most accessible entrance by far for me. He agreed it was most reasonable for me to expect unfettered access.
I thanked him as graciously as I could for getting back to me so promptly, and for giving me his time. He made sure I had his name and phone number, and said that I should call him if I had any additional concerns or issues accessing the park.