Free food events to be limited in Bonita Springs parks

Author: Morgan Frances
Published: Updated:

BONITA SPRINGS – The beauty of a public park is that it’s open to its citizens, but the Bonita Springs City Council is expected to pass an ordinance to restrict certain types of park use. The ordinance would restrict people from hosting regular large feeding events at parks.

“We really haven’t seen it other than the Café of Life,” said Nicole Perino, director of Bonita Springs Parks and Recreation, “and we just kind of made that change because now they have their own dedicated park.”

Café of Life is an organization that feeds the hungry. The group held a lot of large feeding events in local parks before they were able to become their own park, in a sense, located on Nomad Drive.

Sean Dublan says the ordinance concerns him.

“Well we just heard about in Fort Lauderdale where they arrested two pastors, that are 90-year-old men, for feeding a homeless person. I didn’t realize that that became criminalized in Fort Lauderdale. I would hope that this isn’t a move towards that.”

Here’s how the ordinance would work: each club, charity or group over 25 people is allowed three large feeding events in a park per year. If caught violating the ordinance, the person would face a $100 fine, which would increase by $200 for any additional violation. So no jail time, but still more restrictive. Dublin worries that it could discourage other charity organizations.

“I don’t know what the thought process behind it is,” he said, “and I don’t know how it would affect us in the future or other groups that might want to do something like this.”

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