St. Peters has cleaned up an ordinance on the books since the 1990s that technically prohibited children from playing in city streets.
But the sponsor of the bill, Alderman Judy Bateman (Ward 2), said the changes don’t give children a free rein to do anything they want. Bateman said at the Board of Aldermen’s July 23 meeting that some residents told her it appears as if the city is saying children can go out and play in the streets.
“That’s not the case, it’s basically to say (that enforcement is) going to be complaint driven if (a child is or children are) impeding traffic, doing something dangerous or destroying property,” Bateman said.
St. Peters Police Chief Jeff Finkelstein said the city never has written any tickets enforcing the ordinance during his tenure as chief. He said other ordinances prohibit obstruction of traffic and police can respond to individual complaints.
The board voted 6-0 at the July meeting to approve a bill that amends the city code and eliminates much of the old language, but adds a new section prohibiting riding or operating motorized scooters or play vehicles on city streets, highways or sidewalks and in city parks. Aldermen Jerry Hollingsworth (Ward 2) and Patrick Barclay (Ward 4) were absent.
Bateman and city officials characterized the changes as cleaning up an ordinance that had the potential of, in the words of City Attorney Randy Weber, “in essence, criminalizing playing in the streets by children.”
The ordinance, for example, could have prohibited playing basketball or street hockey in cul-de-sacs. Even though the ordinance has never been enforced by city police, that fact that it remained on the books prompted Bateman to review it.