NEW BEDFORD — Ever since a moratorium was placed on grilling in city parks back in July, the inability to ‘grill and chill’ has cooked up some controversy in New Bedford.  After two Human Relations meetings and a City Council meeting, grilling is again allowed at city parks, but the issue will be revisited in preparation for next summer.

The New Bedford City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to refer a motion requesting the Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods to review the “no grilling” rule currently enforced at all parks across the city. Councillors also voted to allow grilling for the remainder of the summer while the issue is worked out over the next year.

The Council voted to give itself until Labor Day 2019 to address the issue, but Ward Six Councillor Joe Lopes says that a resolution will most likely be in place by Memorial Day next year.

“A year might be too long because summer is almost over. Realistically we hope to have something in place by the end of this calendar year or before Memorial Day of next year,” Lopes explained. “That’s ample time to do something. Everyone is at the table working together and I think that’s more than ample time to be sufficient with it.”

About ten to twelve citizens attended a Human Relations meeting at City Hall on Wednesday night, which led to another meeting scheduled for Thursday at 6:00 p.m., just before the scheduled City Council meeting.

City Councillor At Large Brian Gomes says that he’s been grilling at Hazelwood Park and other parks across the city since his childhood. Gomes adds that everything that’s happened since the “no grilling rule” was enforced in July hasn’t had to happen.

“This has been going on for decades, as long as I was a kid. For it to be stopped and the ‘hooblah’ that has been raised because of this whole thing I don’t think needs to happen,” said Gomes, before suggesting a solution of his own. “If there’s an abundance of people on these special holidays enjoying themselves with their families and grilling, we as a city should make sure that they are safe. We should have a roving fire truck or have the Chief just walk through the park and make sure that everyone is safe and following the rules that should be implemented and posted in our parks.”

In the months leading up until the summer of 2019, Councillors will be discussing the rules and regulations surrounding grilling in city parks, such as whether or not to allow the use of gas or charcoal grills, for example. The Council will also discuss the possibility of installing a permitting system for those who want to grill, providing containers to dispose of charcoal, and an increase of enforcement of violations against littering, among other measures.