NEW PORT RICHEY — Kayaks, food service and other commercial ventures are now allowed in city parks, but prospective vendors must undergo a sexual offender background check before starting up.
On Tuesday, the New Port Richey Council approved an ordinance amendment that will allow for certain commercial vendors in its parks — specifically Sims Park, Frances Avenue Park, and James Grey Preserve — for kayaks rentals and boats rides, as well as food and drink sales.
There will be an application process that will allow the city's Parks and Recreation Department to deem what vendors can enter the parks. The application process will also include the background checks, which pleased City Council member Jeff Starkey.
"We can't have pedophiles taking people out on kayak trips," he said.
Council member Bill Phillips also asked city staff to make efforts not to allow any uses in Sims Park that would compete with any existing downtown businesses.
"I would feel it would be a slap to them," Phillips said.
In other news, the council passed an ordinance enacting a nuisance abatement program under which fines and liens can be levied on owners of properties where drug, prostitution and violent crimes repeatedly occur. The council also approved a vehicle impound program that lets the police department begin operating its own impound lot and collect fees associated with it.