Albion agrees not to lock 2 parks on west side of village

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2022 at 10:10 am

Lafayette and St. Joe’s will be open all the time, including at night

Photos by Tom Rivers: The gate at the entrance of Lafayette Park on West State Street is open this morning. The Village Board agreed on Wednesday to not lock Lafayette or St. Joe’s Park.

ALBION – The Village Board in a 3-2 decision agreed to not lock the gates of two village parks west of Main Street, including at night.

Trustees Chris Barry and Zack Burgess said they supported keeping the parks open during daylight, but they thought the gates should be closed and locked at night so neighbors don’t have to contend with noise.

Mayor Angel Javier Jr. and trustees Tim McMurray and Joyce Riley voted to not have the parks locked.

Susan Oschmann, a member of the Abion Recreation Committee, brought up the issue. She said she tried to take her grandchildren to St. Joe’s Park last summer and was surprised the entrance was locked.

She noticed other neighborhood parks with fences – Carosol on Ingersoll and Veterans on Linwood – weren’t locked. Bullard Park, the village’s main park, isn’t fenced in. The village will soon be adding cameras to Bullard to help deter vandalism.

“We need to invest in our neighborhoods the right way,” Oschmann said at Wednesday’s Village Board meeting. “I don’t think putting a lock on the playgrounds is the right answer.”

The village historically would lock the gates on Lafayette and St. Joe’s at night and then unlock them at 8 a.m. But often in recent years they have stayed locked all day.

Dorothy Daniels, another resident at the meeting, said it was “bad optics” to lock parks on one side of the village and not the other.

“It sends a very bad message,” she said.

Trustee Tim McMurray made the motion to not lock the two parks, including at night. If there are issues after dusk, McMurray said locking the gates at night could be revisited.

Trustee Joyce Riley said having the parks locked during the day didn’t send a welcoming message to those neighborhoods. She said the smaller parks need to open because not everyone has a car and can get to Bullard on Route 31. That site has the most playground equipment and a spray park that opened last year.

“We need to treat each other the way we want to be treated on a regular basis,” Riley said. “Let’s start by opening our parks.”

St. Joe’s Park on Clinton Street is open today after a member of the Albion Recreation Committee asked why the park is often locked with the front gate closed, even on weekends during the summer.