Dayton could lift 53-year ban on inner tubes, inflatables

The city of Dayton is considering eliminating a 53-year-old ban on the use of inflated rafts or inner tubes on city waters, which supporters say would add a relatively cheap recreational option for fun-seekers.

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The city’s ban, which dates back to 1965, says that people cannot operate watercraft that is in unsafe condition and specifically prohibits inflatables or similar devices.

But the city may ditch the ban, which would likely boost interest and use of the rivers in the city, since inner tubes are much cheaper than kayaks and other watercraft, said Carrie Scarff, Five Rivers MetroParks’ chief of planning and projects.

“As we are trying to make our rivers more accessible, this opens the opportunity to get on the rivers to a whole bunch of people,” she said.

The Dayton City Commission is expected to have its first reading of the ordinance repealing the ban on inflatable rafts and tubes on Wednesday.

“The ban originated as a result of the increased activity taking place on the city waters and a desire to preserve the public peace, property and health and safety of its citizens,” according to a memo from the city attorney.

If the commission decides to repeal that section of the city code, the city will defer to state of Ohio’s watercraft regulations.

The state allows inflatable rafts and inner tubes if they have multiple air cells or compartments, so they can remain afloat if one cell or compartment is punctured or collapses.

Pool floats wouldn’t cut it since they tend to be pretty flimsy. The tubes need to be much sturdier than that. People also should wear life-jackets when on rafts and tubes.

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The Stillwater and Great Miami rivers tend to be nice, lazy rivers that would offer relaxing and fun floating opportunities, Scarff said.

People could float from Englewood MetroPark down to Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, or from eastern parks along the Mad River to downtown.

“I would hope this opens the rivers to a whole different group of people,” Scarff said.

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