Aurora -- The city is planning a program in which volunteers would keep an eye on the city's parkland. They would be trained in April or May, and the program would start this summer, according to Parks-Rec Director Jim Kraus.
"The intent is to grow a volunteer base of park patrons to help the city in the patrolling of our properties," Kraus said. "It would be to help us monitor the policies, rules and procedures that we have.
Kraus said volunteers would be on the lookout for occurrences like trees that are down, bridges that might need to be fixed, erosion problems, someone fishing without a permit or a suspicious person.
Kraus said city properties patrolled would include the Aurora Wetlands, Spring Hill, Sunny Lake Park and the former Aurora Golf Club property that now is owned by the city.
"The thought is, as you start to grow the volunteers, you could categorize them," he said. "There may be a group that may patrol the paved path at Sunny Lake, for example, and another group would focus on trails."
Kraus said details and procedures are currently being finalized with the police department.
Police Chief Seth Riewaldt believes the program is a good idea. "I don't see any drawbacks," he said. "The more eyes you have, the better. The parks would be safer, and we'd have better feedback."
Riewaldt said he would encourage volunteers to provide CPR and first aide, and they should be trained to report a potentially hazardous situation but not enforce the law.
"They would be shown how to confront people who are breaking the rules," he said. "They would explain that they're not police and they're not carrying guns."
Or it may be something as simple as a tree falling in a path. "People would have to step over it," he said. "It may go undiscovered for some time, but the job of a volunteer is to report it."
Riewaldt said volunteers may wear uniforms -- possibly marked jackets, vests or hats -- so they could easily be identified.
"It may cost the city money, but in exchange for doing this work, it would be a good investment," he said. "If I was a resident out in the park and I saw a park volunteer, it would make me feel more comfortable."
In addition to patrolling the parks, Kraus said volunteers could be involved in park cleanup days.
"When you've got so much property, you can do only so much with the staff you have," Kraus said. "You can't afford to employ all the staff it would take to do what the volunteers would do."
To learn more about the program, check out the jobs link on the city website at www.auroraoh.com. If interested, email Kraus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187