Albion changes decision and will lock 2 parks, Lafayette and St. Joe’s, at night

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2022 at 9:45 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: There is a lock at the gate by the entrance of Lafayette Park on West State Street. Neighbors have urged the Village Board not to leave the park open at night.

ALBION – The Village Board reversed a decision from two months ago when it voted to not lock Lafayette Park and St. Joseph’s Park at night.

That was a 3-2 decision on April 27. Mayor Angel Javier and Trustees Tim McMurray and Joyce Riley voted to not lock the parks at night, saying other parks in the village were always kept open.

But residents near St. Joe’s and Lafayette say those parks have had adults in them at night, who are sometimes smoking marijuana, having sex or vandalizing the sites.

Trustees Chris Barry and Zack Burgess want to lock Lafayette and St. Joe’s at night. Burgess grew up next to Lafayette. His mother Lynn Burgess has been one of the most vocal detractors of the decision to keep the park open at night.

She asked on Wednesday that the village go back to locking it at night and having the police or DPW open the locks in the morning at 8 a.m. and then have the police lock them at night.

Barry said he has listened to concerns from residents the past two months and wants to have the two parks locked at night, but he acknowledged other trustees didn’t see that as consistent with the other parks that aren’t locked.

So Barry made a motion to put gates and locks at the entrances of Carosol Park on Ingersoll Street and Vets Park on Brown Street, even though those parks have short fences.

It would be financially cost prohibitive to put a fence and gate at Bullard, a large park on Route 31, he said.

If the four smaller neighborhood parks were locked, the DPW and police would need to lock and unlock them.

That prompted Trustee Joyce Riley to change her opinion about locking Lafayette and St. Joe’s. She said the residents near those parks have shared their worries about them being open at night. The other parks are in more wide open areas and residents near those parks haven’t shared concerns about the sites being open all night, Riley said.

She also doesn’t want to see the DPW and police have their time gobbled up with locking and unlocking parks at four sites.

The village will keep locks on Lafayette and St. Joe’s with the DPW unlocking them in the morning on Monday through Friday, with the police locking the parks at night and unlocking them on Saturday and Sunday. The village will put signs at the two parks to call the police if the parks are locked in the morning.

Trustee McMurray cast the lone vote on Wednesday to have all parks be open at night. He said they can provide a refuge for some people who need a safe place.