Conroe man given citation for working out in city park

The park has workout equipment to encourage exercise, so one man was shocked when he was issued a $200 citation
October 19, 2013 7:45:18 AM PDT
It was the last thing one Conroe man expected while exercising at a public park. He was stopped by police and ticketed.

You see it often at parks around the Houston area, groups of people working out together and motivating each other to get fit. One man was shocked after being told he needed a permit to do just that at his favorite park in Conroe.

The park has workout equipment so the city is encouraging exercise there. When it comes to group exercise, well, that's a little more complicated.

John Milo and a group of about 10 other people were working out earlier this week when they were abruptly interrupted by Conroe police.

"They took me to the squad car. I tried to explain to them that it was just a misunderstanding," Milo said.

The officers wrote Milo a citation, saying he was using the park without a permit.

"It's a public place. We didn't think we were doing anything wrong. And certainly, he wasn't doing anything wrong," workout partner Marlyna McBurney said.

Milo works as a juvenile probation officer, but fitness is his passion. A while ago, he started working out at the park and gradually encouraged other people walking at the park to join him.

"It's for free. I don't have a Facebook page. I don't have cards made," Milo said.

But the city of Conroe took exception, arguing that Milo's group activity might prevent other people from using the park pavilion.

"We want people to have a permit to use the park in the fashion that he was going to use the park," city administrator Paul Virgadamo said.

"What's the difference between, say, four moms on a play date and him?" we asked Virgadamo.

"Well, four moms on a play date aren't conducting a class," he said.

Milo says his group meets at 8am, when the pavilion is empty. Still, he reluctantly paid up for a permit and now rents the space for $11 an hour.

"I think it's wrong. They're just trying to make money off people out here trying to exercise," Milo said.

The city says it waived Milo's citation since he purchased the permit. The fine on that citation, according to the municipal court, is more than $200.

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