In preparation for the upcoming pool season, city of Bexley officials are considering options for increasing safety at the David H. Madison Community Pool at Jeffrey Park.
Recreation Director Michael Price said the city began exploring additional safety methods after two occasions last summer in which cars were broken into in the pool's parking lot. On one of those occasions, four cars were broken into on the same day. There were also a few instances of bicycles being stolen from bike racks near the pool.
"We went through and discussed different options for improving security, also improving education for the residents about not leaving things in their car that are visible," Price said at the Bexley Recreation Board's meeting April 2.
Two methods that the city plans to implement are relocating the bike racks to a more visible location and enhancing existing security cameras with a new system in which cameras will be added to monitor the parking lot, Price said.
"We have had cameras on the bike racks; we still do," Price said. "We will this season, for sure. Cameras are a deterrent, to some extent."
Price added that police apprehended one suspect who stole a bicycle last summer by viewing security camera footage.
Mayor Ben Kessler said plans call for the new camera system to be in place when the pool opens May 24.
"I expect by the time we open the pool, we'll, if not have a new camera system in place, we'll have a very clear timeline for having a camera system in place," he said.
After the car break-ins last summer, the city installed temporary signs near the parking lot advising pool visitors not to leave items in plain view in their cars. The city plans to add permanent signage in time for the pool season, Kessler said.
Another option under consideration is installing a fence along Clifton Avenue near the pool's exit.
"The cars that were broken into were all broken into at the southeast corner of the pool, and the consensus is that's easy access to get out of town, right across the bridge," Price said. "Putting a fence there makes it a little more difficult to get in and out from the location and will hopefully discourage any issues in the future."
Price said there has also been discussion about having pool lifeguards take turns monitoring the parking lot and reporting any suspicious activity to police, but he's not sure if that option will be feasible because of the issues it might raise in terms of the lifeguards' work schedules and pay.
Price said police records from 2011 through 2013 indicate that car break-ins and bicycle thefts at the David H. Madison Community Pool are relatively rare occurrences. In that timeframe, there were a total of five car break-ins and five bicycle thefts.
"We have a very safe facility and we have a very minimal number of issues that occur at the pool," Price said. "Having said that, it doesn't mean there aren't ways we can tweak (security). If we can make it zero (crime incidents), that's obviously an ultimate goal, within reason."