NEOSHO, Mo. — The city of Neosho will soon set hours of operation for its parks, with the intent of them being closed between midnight and 4 a.m.

The Neosho City Council on Monday night approved an ordinance on first reading that members said second and third reading would specify that parks would be closed between midnight and 4 a.m. daily. That action is scheduled for the council's meeting on Jan. 21.

The council indicated a desire to keep parks available for nighttime hours as long as they are being used as intended, according to discussion during Tuesday's regular meeting. Councilman Carmin Allen noted that he, like many others, enjoys walking through the parks at night.

The establishment of hours gives the city something to enforce when parks are being used in a manner that's not authorized, said Parks Director Clint Dalbom.

"If someone is using them as one of its designated uses, that's not a problem," Dalbom said. "If it's not a designated use, then we don't have the power (now) to get them out of there."

City officials said setting hours will help control use of the parks by homeless people, and will give the city additional leverage to protect the parks against vandalism and prevent them from being sites for illegal drug use.

In other business:

• The city is considering increasing business license fees, bringing them to levels comparable to neighboring towns. "Our fees have not changed since 1986," Finance Director Daphne Pevahouse said during the meeting. "We're trying to figure out what's best for the community."

Council members passed a motion to have city staff develop an ordinance that calls for adjusting the fees on a sliding scale that raises the fee depending on gross sales. That ordinance is expected to be approved on an emergency basis during the Jan. 21 meeting.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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