MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hubbard Park in Meriden is a beautiful park that attracts a lot of people, especially lately amid the coronavirus outbreak with everyone working and attending school at home.
Local residents often come to the park for exercise, walk around the pond, enjoy the spring blooming of flowers, but the mayor said he’s been getting complaints about park-goers not adhering to social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
News 8’s LaSalle Blanks was at the park Tuesday and saw heavy volume of traffic of people coming in on the beautiful Spring day.
So Tuesday, Meriden Police Department launched a drone above the park to monitor the volume of people coming and to look out for social-distancing violations.
“We have gotten many complaints about the number of people that frequent our parks — and while that’s not a bad thing — as long as it’s done so properly, so this drone is basically going to be used to just reinforce our message that we’ve been saying all along — and that’s be respectful, be mindful, stay six feet away from one another,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati.
The mayor said the objective is not to arrest people or issue fines, but it is being done to keep people apart and watch for people congregating in big groups. He said he does not want to close the park, but depending on the results of the drove footage over the next week or more, he may have to.
Some, however, think the drone watching from overhead is abit much.
Canorris Barron, of Meriden, told News 8 they believe the town is overreacting.
Patti Dudow, of Meriden, has seen complaints about the drone on social media. She said the comments are largely people feeling like their privacy is being invaded.
Dudow, applauds the move, saying, “I have an elderly mother so I want to be sure I can go out and be safe at the same time.”
William Reyor Jr. and Debbie Barry feel the same way. Fears about spreading the virus hit home for them because Debbie’s son is first responder.
“It kinda does scare me; I just want this to end,” Barry explained.
Reyor said his sister caught the virus but is recovering. He explained, “She said it was probably the most horrible thing she’s ever experienced in her life.”
Meriden has at least 145 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, and eight deaths.