Barnesville Village Council members and the mayor agree that steps should be taken to help increase the safety of children using the Amazing Playground at Barnesville Memorial Park, but disagree on the best way to accomplish it.
At the Monday, Aug. 31 village council meeting, Mayor Tom Michelli told council he had received many comments from the public about the four-foot fence that council voted to erect around the playground.
At the Aug. 17 meeting, Council President Dale Bunting suggested building a fence around the Amazing Playground, resulting in only one way in and out of the playground. Other safety measures will include lighting at the playground and video surveillance all around the park.
The need for increased security was highlighted by an incident involving a 10-year-old girl who reported that an older man tried to abduct her at the Amazing Playground.
Councilman Ron Bischof said he too, received comments that confining children will only "compound the problem."
Police Chief Dave Norris said he felt the fence would make it more difficult for officers to patrol the area, until it was explained to him that the pickets will be spaced so that people can see through the fence.
Bunting said the fence was already being constructed. He noted, that the playground committee had originally hoped to construct a fence around the playground.
Bunting also said that from the road at the top of the hill, it will be easy to see over the four-foot fence, but at the same time, it would be difficult to get a child over the back of the fence.
"Parents have to take responsibility," Chief Norris said. "There is no way we can watch 24/7."
"Whatever the action, we need to help prevent it (child abduction). If we do nothing, shame on us," Councilman Terry McCort said.
"We always do things after the fact," Bunting said. "I'm here (on council) to protect kids."
"Put it up and see what happens, but I feel it is the wrong idea," Mayor Michelli said. "That is my personal opinion."
On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Bunting and Village Administrator Roger Deal were at the park as the fence was being constructed.
The four-foot fence will have pickets like those already in the front of the playground. Bunting said after parent feedback, it was decided to leave the front near the benches open for better access to strollers. Bunting stressed the need for the fence around the back of the playground, because of the park lake road. He said a gate will also be put on the handicap ramp.
Bunting said a security light will be installed on the pool pumphouse that can be turned off if it interferes with amphitheater events.
"No matter what we do, it is the parent's responsibility to watch their children," Deal said.
A mother of two who was with her children at the park that night said she thought the fence will look nice and could be a good idea.
Cathryn Stanley/Barnesville Enterprise
This four-foot fence has been constructed around the Amazing Playground at Barnesville Memorial Park. It will have pickets like those already in the front of the playground. Dale Bunting said after parent feedback, it was decided to leave the front near the benches open for better access to strollers. The back of the fence is shown. Bunting said fencing the back is especially important because of the road below.