New Milford Town Council improving park security
NEW MILFORD — Lynn Deming Park will be more secure next summer with the addition of gates and cameras.
The Town Council approved spending $70,500 from the Landfill Settlement Fund on Monday, though it took Councilman Peter Mullen switching his vote for it to pass.
The improvements will address some of the concerns raised during last year’s Fourth of July holiday when the park was packed with people who didn’t have passes.
Originally Mullen abstained because he didn’t want cameras throughout the park, calling it “a bit overkill,” but acknowledged it could address a potential need. Five council members were needed to approve the special appropriation. Since four members were absent, all of the council members at Monday’s meeting had to approve it.
“I don’t like cameras all over the park,” Mullen said. “I think we’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Mullen switched because he said the parks and recreation department needed the time now to make sure it was done right before the summer season. He did question where the town drew the line on its surveillance and enforcement of wrongdoings at the park. He said the lifeguards in general have gotten better at spotting problems.
Councilman Mike Nahom said the cameras can also protect the town from liabilities.
The work includes installing two entrance gates and an exit gate. The pass stickers will also now have special technology that will automatically open the gates, as well as track people’s visits.
Cameras will also be installed at the gates and can record cars’ license plates, said Parks and Recreation Director Dan Calhoun.
The park will continue to have at least one security guard on site 24 hours a day from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Calhoun said.
Another problem is people sneaking in through the woods from the adjacent property. Calhoun said the cost of fence there was too high, but Mayor Pete Bass said the ranger riding around on the Gator has stopped people and cameras pointed toward the woods will deter others.
Several town council members said the security upgrades were needed, especially because the town recently completed a $1.2 million renovation at the park and it needed to protect the investment.
“It’s well overdue and we need it,” said Doug Skelly, who also sits on the parks and recreation commission.
Some council members questioned if the Landfill Settlement Fund was the appropriate source of the money though.
Bass said it is a recreational item and so allowed. He said the original renovation project also called for the security components so this is completing that plan.
“My thought was instead of impacting the tax pater, we use the landfill settlement fund because (the park) is our shining star,” he said, adding the fund has more than $13.2 million.