WILLIAMSPORT - The Williamsport village council approved the installation of security lights at the community ball fields on Monday, a move intended to improve safety for the property as well as village residents.
Mayor Ed Cox said South Central Power will perform the work to add a total of four directional security lights that should be in place and operational by late August at a cost of about $5,800.
The conversation began in May after the fields were damaged by two suspects accused of driving through and doing doughnuts at the ball diamonds, but that is not the only concern at the secluded site, Cox said.
"Right now, everybody goes down through that area where it's not lit up," Cox said. "There could be a car down there, and you wouldn't be able to see it from the top of the hill, it's that secluded and dark down there. I think people will shy away from it now, because they can't hide down there and do the things they do."
Cox said some of that activity in recent months includes drug usage, as he has found used needles on several occasions in the parking area at the fields.
"This weekend when it got dark, there was a car down there after dark, and I noticed they kept having to re-light a cigarette," Cox said. "That was a dead giveaway it wasn't an actual cigarette. And it's dangerous, especially during baseball season, when you have kids down there walking around in flip flops. The next thing you know, we'll have a kid stuck with a needle, and it's not going to be good."
Cox said it was for that reason council members felt the cost of lighting the area would be money well-spent. He said the youth baseball association also just received a grant to build a shelter house at the fields, and no one wants to see it vandalized because village officials didn't take appropriate measures ahead of time.
The $5,800 will cover the cost for trenching and wiring to reach the ball fields, Cox said, because electric service currently stops at the neighboring sewage plant. It will also cover the cost to install the two poles that will each house two directional lights.
"Once that's put in, it will be just $11 a month for each light, so a total of $44 a month for the four lights," he said.
Village officials also have considered installing fencing and a gate to keep unwanted traffic out of the ball fields, but Cox said they hope the lighting will be sufficient for now.
Cox said the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office has agreed to patrol the fields whenever they are in the area, and he and his wife will continue to check the fields multiple times after dark as they have been.
"I won't quit, I'll tell you that," Cox said. "I'm not stopping until they stop. I'm not putting up with it. This is my town, and my kids live here, and I'll do everything in my power to keep it safe."