Mayor Mark A. Smith issued a statement explaining the City of Bayonne’s insurance requirements for private groups that use municipal facilities.
Smith said, “Recently, there has been a discussion in the press regarding the City’s requirement that independent organizations which would like to use any of municipal facilities provide insurance to protect the City in the event of accidents or injuries that result in claims against the municipality. The City Council recently passed, and I approved, an ordinance containing this requirement, in order to protect our community from what could be serious financial losses in the event of claims. Even lawsuits that have no merit can costs thousands of dollars to defend.”
He continued, “Since my election, our administration has focused on cost-cutting measures and reducing our exposure to loss. For the first time in over 25 years, Bayonne has purchased comprehensive general liability insurance coverage instead of self-insuring against losses. We take insurance and risk management very seriously.”
Smith explained, “When private groups use municipal parks, fields, buildings, and other facilities, there is always a possibility that people or property could be harmed as a result of accidents or negligence. The private organizations and the City of Bayonne could both be held liable for such cases as slip and fall, insufficient supervision of activities, and improper operation of vehicles or equipment, during a private group’s event at a City-owned property. These are just a few examples of incidents for which private groups and/or the City could be held liable.”
He added, “We are not interested in singling out groups or organizations wishing to use any of our ball fields, our stadium, our meeting rooms or other facilities. The new policy is being uniformly applied to everyone in a fair and balanced manner. Many national organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and the Toastmasters provide general liability insurance as part of their annual dues. The cost of securing coverage is modest compared to the possible potential financial losses to the city, the organization, and even the officers themselves, should any of these parties be found to be liable for a claim. I would urge any organization to consider obtaining insurance as part of its annual budget to protect itself in the event of an injury or accident.”
Smith offered a clarification of the insurance requirement for private organizations, “The insurance requirement is not intended to harm organizations that sponsor social, cultural, recreational, or educational activities. The City has a vested interest in providing a wide array of these activities for our citizens to enjoy. We co-sponsor many different activities and are always looking for opportunities to expand our recreational offerings. Any group in town that helps further this mission is invited to become a program affiliate of the Bayonne Recreation Division. By becoming a program co-sponsored by the City, such organizations can be covered by the municipality’s liability insurance. Any group that wishes to become an affiliated program can contact Recreation Supervisor Pete Amadeo at 201-858-6129 to request an application. Applications are also available online at www.bayonnerec.com. Qualifying groups include non-profit social, cultural, educational, and recreational activities.”
Smith concluded, “I hope that this explanation helps to clear up why we have instituted uniform insurance requirements for anyone wishing to use public property for their organization. One of the great features of Bayonne is its rich organizational life. We want that variety of activities to continue in our public parks, fields, and buildings, along with appropriate liability protection for the taxpayers.”