- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Some Dubuque residents who are unhappy with the sledding ban in most city parks are planning a weekend protest - complete with sleds.

Protest organizer Justin McCarthy told the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/1s9xeye ) the City Council should let people sled where they want and not waste time on the issue. He began organizing a protest soon after the City Council approved an ordinance this week allowing sledding in only two of Dubuque’s 50 parks in an effort to protect the city against liability if people get hurt.

“I think there’s better things that the city can be doing, bigger problems in town that they can be spending their time on rather than putting up a ban on sledding,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy took to Facebook, organizing a sledding protest Saturday on the grounds of an elementary school. He invited more than 3,000 people, and more than 140 say they’ll attend. McCarthy later learned the ban wouldn’t limit sledding on school property but decided to stick with that location.

Officials approved the sledding restriction out of concern the city could be liable for injured sledders. Other Midwest cities have lost multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed by people who were severely injured in sledding accidents.

Council member Kevin Lynch expressed frustration that people are complaining about the ban without understanding why it was done. Lynch noted that people still could sled on private property within the city.

Lynch also repeated calls that he and other council members have made for the Legislature to change state law and protect cities from sledding lawsuits, as the state already does for activities such as skateboarding.

Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said lawmakers are aware of the issue and could make a change during the legislative session, which begins Monday.

“If it’s going to happen, it’s something that’s probably going to happen this session,” she said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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