Citizen Wausau

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One Council to Unite Us All

by on August 14th, 2013

The City of Wausau has passed an ordinance that will allow people to be banned from public spaces.  The police Bill Duncanson will have the authority to decide who can and should be banned from the ability to enter public spaces such as the 400 block, or say, any park.  I think that this will be a nice point in which both the right and the left can agree that the City of Wausau has gone too far.

The Ordinance that the City has sought to amend is this

“9.20.020 Regulation of persons. Persons using the public parks shall comply with thefollowing:

For statutory provisions granting a city park board certain board regulatory powers, see’ 27.08, Wis. Stats.  Wausau Municipal Code

9 – 29

(a) No fires shall be permitted in any park other than The 400 Block, except for cooking

purposes at designated places. No grilling shall be permitted on The 400 Block, with the exception of those special events for which waivers are granted upon the recommendation of public health & safety committee and approval of the Common Council. Open fires utilizing liquid or gas fuels may be permitted on The 400 Block with the written consent of the City of Wausau;

(b) No person shall enter or be in any park between eleven p.m. and six a.m. Persons in attendance of an activity involving rental of a shelter or participation in a sanctioned special event shall be allowed to remain within the park until midnight or as allowed by the event agreement. Persons traveling on the River Edge Trail or on walkways traversing The 400 Block and persons transporting watercraft to and from designated boat landings are permitted at any hour;

(c) No person shall distribute or post bills or advertisements in any park without written consent of the City of Wausau;

(d) No person shall give or take part in any entertainment or exhibition or hold any public meeting or engage in public speaking in any park without written consent of the City of Wausau;

(e) No person shall sell or offer for sale any goods, wares or merchandise in any park, except as authorized by the City of Wausau and when holding proper licenses;

(f) No person shall play or practice golf in any park;

(g) No person shall carry into, possess, or throw any cup, glass, flask, bottle or other container made of glass or other shatterable material designed or used for holding a beverage in or on the amphitheater at Marathon Park, the stadium and bleachers at Thom Field and the grandstand and bleachers in Athletic Park;

(h) No owner or person having immediate custody, care or control of any animal, shall permit said animal to enter and/or remain in any designated public park building, bathing beach, or playground safety surface area within any city park, except for a dog specially trained to lead blind or deaf persons or to provide support for mobility-impaired persons. This restriction is in addition to the provisions contained in Chapter 8.08 of the Wausau Municipal Code;

(i) No person shall use any facility, shelter, land or other area, for which a fee or charge has been established by the City of Wausau, without payment of such fee or charge prior to the use.

(j) No person shall enter in any way any building, facility or area that may be under construction or locked or closed to public use, enter or be upon any building, facility or area after the posted closing time or before the posted opening time or contrary to posted notice in any park;

(k) No person shall use docks or piers adjacent to any boat landing in any manner as to obstruct or hinder the launching, landing, loading or unloading of watercraft;

(l) No person shall play or practice hockey, broomball or any other games or sports that may interfere with casual ice skaters, when casual skaters are present on outdoor ice skating rinks  Wausau Municipal Code established by the park and recreation committee, except hockey and broomball may be played on designated hockey rinks;

(m) No person shall knowingly obstruct any law enforcement officer while the law enforcement officer is doing any act in an official capacity and with lawful authority. Obstruct includes without limitation knowingly giving false information with intent to mislead the law enforcement officer in the performance of duty including the issuance of any citation;

(n) No person shall take, catch, kill, hunt, trap, pursue, feed or otherwise disturb any wild animals or birds in any park, except that nuisance animals may be trapped upon written consent of the park and recreation committee or its authorized agent and in accordance with applicable state statutes and applicable provisions of the Wisconsin Administrative Code setting forth regulations of the Department of Natural Resources;

(o) Rules and regulations may be made governing the use and enjoyment of all lands,
structures and property owned, leased or administered by the city and under the management,
supervision and control of the park and recreation committee. Any person who shall violate such
rules and regulations or who refuses to subject himself thereto may be excluded from the use of
such facility. The decision of the Director of the Parks Department to exclude individuals from
the use of park facilities shall be final and the city elects not to be bound by the provisions of
Chapter 68, Wisconsin Statutes, with respect to administrative procedure in this regard;
Section 2. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.
Section 3. This ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its date of publication

(p) No person shall allow a dog or other animal to intimidate any other person from the use or enjoyment of any park. Evidence that a dog or other animal intimidates persons includes, but is not limited to, such animal not being amenable to control or threatening to attack persons or other animals. Any law enforcement officer or park ranger may order the animal be removed from the park;

(q) No person shall disturb, molest, deface, remove or destroy any trees, shrubs, plants or other natural growth; disturb or remove shoreline rip-rap; carve on any rocks, archaeological or geological features, signs, walls or structures; drive nails in trees or move, deface or vandalize in any manner any structures including buildings, signs, fences, tables or other park property. Edible fruits, nuts, wild mushrooms and wild asparagus may be picked or gathered without a permit. (Ord. 61-5567 ‘1, 2013, File No. 02-0511; Ord. 61-5483 ‘2, 2011, File No. 02-0511; Ord. 61-339 ‘3, 2007,File No. 07-0718; Ord. 61-5267 ‘1, 2005, File No. 02-0511; Ord. 61-5178 ‘2, 2002, File No. 02-0511; Ord. 61-5036 ‘2, 2000; Ord. 61-4986 ‘2, 1997; Ord. 61-4959 ‘1, 1996; Ord. 61-4934 ‘1,1996; Ord. 61-4909 ‘1, 1995; Ord. 61-4779 ‘1, 1992; Ord. 61-4476 ‘1, 1981; Ord. 61-4343 ‘1,1977; prior code ‘11.05(2).)”


I have bolded a section that I find particularly objectionable.  This ordinance provides no clear guidelines of process for curbing and guiding the authority of anyone.  The City ordinance above makes it possible for me to enjoy entertainment and be banned from City Property.  I can also practice golf and be banned from City Property.

This amendment reaches past just the 400 Block drunks.  It reaches to any and all properties that the City Parks Department manages, administers etc.  It does not provide a process, or oversight.  It just simply allows the City to decide, and move forward.

Let me be clear.  The Public Intoxication thing, that is a problem.  But, that is not a problem that should allow the city of Wausau to create the ability to ban people from public spaces without any sort of process of any kind.

There is now an amendment in place that allows the City of Wausau to ban you or I from the parks.   It does not even create the mechanism through which or what office you and I will be banned.

This is the worst sort of city council over reach that we see.  It is the Unconstitutional kind.  The kind that does not create or support due process, or our rights in public spaces.  It is one that sees a problem, the drunks in the park, and creates a hammer to solve it.  Instead of a scalpel.  The John Fischer Law of Unintended Consequences shall surely come into play.


Councilman David Oberbeck sent along this document.  I do not think that this makes it any clearer.  In fact, I think it creates a situation where sitting around playing a guitar is against the rules, and can get you banned from the City Parks.

The beloved NONCERT that happens each year, that is against the rules, and can get both the performers and audience banned from the City of Wausau park.  It does not have a permit, it is just a simple gathering of people to enjoy entertainment.  It is violation of, “(d) No person shall give or take part in any entertainment or exhibition or hold any public meeting or engage in public speaking in any park without written consent of the City of Wausau;”.


The common response from people both City leaders off the record, and some public people, is that these ordinances have existed for a while.  This might be true.  But, they were wrong then in my opinion.  I simply just found out about 9.20.020 today, so that is that.

Further, this new amendment is not simply about the drunkards at the 400 Block, it is expansive in nature.

And, do the police have the mechanism in place to give me a nonbinding legal item, this so called ban, and then if I choose to not respect it, then what happens?  Am I arrested?  This seems counter intuitive.


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