Cameras for contact tracing in the park? Brookfield trustees disagree on use of funding

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Trustee Ron Haun said the cameras would be used for contact tracing, while Trustee Dan Suttles thinks the funding could be better used

BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Trustees in Brookfield Township plan to use their CARES Act funding to put cameras in the community park in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

One trustee said, however, that he is concerned about the use of the funds.

“We only have a part-time employee down there that works about 3-4 hours a day, maybe a little longer than that on some days if there is a heavier workload,” said Trustee Ronald Haun said about the park on Stewart Sharon Road.

Haun and Trustee Gary Lees spoke out in favor of the project during a Trustees’ meeting on Monday night, which was streamed on Facebook Live.

Haun also said the park is used by multiple people, from community members, youth leagues and the Brookfield schools for sports. He said the cameras would allow for monitoring and provide another tool to the health department for contact tracing. It would also fill the void left when the part-time employee isn’t there.

“The only people that would have the availability of that if there was an issue would be the health department or our police department,” said Haun.

According to Haun, the camera system would cost approximately $49,700 of the $187,000 in CARES Act funding they received. They can spend up to $50,000 on the project.

During Monday’s meeting, trustees argued over the legality of adding lights to the camera poles as well as using other funds for the lighting.

Dan Suttles, chairman of the trustees, said that’s not legal, while Haun said the attorney he spoke to said it is. Both agreed to sit down with the prosecuting attorney before moving forward.

Suttles has other reasons for opposing the cameras.

“I was opposed to it for a few reasons — one is the delicate issue of remotely monitoring our citizens in a park setting to make sure they’re not standing too close to their neighbors,” Suttles said.

He said the plan would be to install a total of 15 cameras on four 30-foot poles.

“I’m concerned whether it’s the correct application of these funds,” said Suttles.

Suttles said it came up in September’s meeting, and he asked what would happen if someone was seen not social distancing on the camera.

“I had asked if our police department had received any complaints on people that weren’t social distancing, and there weren’t any, so I was a little bit taken back by that,” he said.

Haun brought up President Donald Trump’s bout with COVID-19 and said they used camera monitoring for contact tracing.

“If we did have an incident at our township park where somebody came down with it, there’d be no way to be able to do that,” said Haun.

It boils down to not wanting COVID-19 to spread, and both Haun and Suttles said they’ve done a lot to help prevent it from spreading including disseminating information, touchless bathroom facilities and disinfecting sprayers, to name a few.

“I have an understanding why…the general public feels the way they do, but we also have a responsibility to the general public, and we also have a responsibility to our school district when they use our facilities,” said Haun.

Suttles said he would like to see the money used elsewhere.

“We’re trying to use it in the various departments to provide a safer work environment for our employees, including first responders and road employees,” said Suttles. “Some of the funds are going to to be able to sanitize all our vehicles and workspaces after each workday. We are monitoring with thermometers, the temperatures of all our employees… I think it should be addressed toward our employees and our community as it applies to the COVID-19 crisis.

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