London invests in security upgrades to curb park vandalism

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(Posted July 19, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The city of London is investing in upgraded security in an attempt to curb vandalism at Cowling Park.

On July 15, city council set aside $17,500 for the purchase of new surveillance cameras. The new equipment will survey a broader area and provide better quality images than the current camera system, said council member Carla Blazier who sponsored the legislation.

“We’ve had to close the bathrooms at the park at least twice this year because of vandalism,” said Rex Castle, London’s safety-service director. “There has been some vandalism with the park equipment, too. It’s kind of hard to tear that stuff up, but we’ve had some issues.”

Vandals have broken off a sink faucet and ripped dispensers off walls in the bathrooms. They also punched out the glass in the miniature library located on the park grounds.

“Anything and everything they can break, they break it,” Castle said.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” Blazier added.

With better quality imaging, city officials hope they can more easily identify culprits which would lead to prosecution.

Another planned park improvement is the installation of benches near the playground equipment and along the walking paths. Some of the benches will be equipped with USB phone chargers. Currently, park visitors who need to charge their phones are using outlets at the shelter house.

“By putting the chargers next to benches, we’re trying to make things a little more convenient. That way, parents can sit and charge their phone while they’re watching their kids play,” Castle said.

New water meters

Council approved a contract to purchase all new water meters throughout the city. The project will cost $1.5 million. The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) secured a $400,000 grant and a $1 million interest-free, 30-year loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission to cover the majority of the cost. The water department’s budget will cover the remainder of the cost, Castle said.

Normally, OPWC approves a grant or a loan, not both, for such projects, Castle said, but because OPWC received a low number of applicants for the loan portion of their funding, London received both.

“So far, at this time, the BPU has not brought up anything about increasing water bills or anything like that,” said council member Anthony Smith regarding offsetting the project’s cost.

Smith sponsored legislation for the purchase of new meters and for approval to put the installation work out to bid. Installation is included in the $1.5 million cost estimate.

Currently, city employees manually read the water meters. The new meters will be read electronically, eliminating the need for manual readings. They also will provide more accurate readings than the aging models in use now, Smith said. The city does not currently have a timeline for when installation will occur.

Cobra Club donations

Each year, the Ohio Cobra Club makes donations to first responder departments in the city of London and in Madison County. The donations are the club’s way of showing appreciation for the support they receive during their annual car show which takes place in conjunction with the London Strawberry Festival in June. This year, the club donated a total of $5,000 to London’s police and fire departments.

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