Trustees voted earlier this month 2-1 to purchase $79,800 in playground equipment from Playground Equipment Services to install on the corner lot. The equipment includes a swing set, seating areas and a multi-deck tower with slides and climbing areas. Hartkemeyer voted against the purchase.
Fairfield Twp. Trustee Joe McAbee said he is “concerned about sex offenders whereever they may live” but believes Fairfax and Lenox is a good location for a park. He understands the concern but said he doesn’t believe it should stop the trustees from making the park.
“The people that live in the area asked for a park and selected that location,” McAbee said. “For a park in any location, the children using the park still need to be properly supervised.”
Fairfield Twp. Trustee Susan Berding also said it’s “concerning” a Tier III sex offender, the highest classification level, lives near the site. She asked the township’s attorney if the sex offender would be forced to move if the township did install a park at the site.
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“That would be my position,” said Fairfield Twp. Law Director Lawrence Barbiere. “I’m not guaranteeing I would win on that, but that would be my position.”
The township might not have much authority, though.
“There is no stipulation for sex offenders and their proximity to parks,” said Ohio Attorney General spokesman Steve Irwin.
Sex offenders do have a 1,000-foot residency restriction from schools, preschools and daycares. And they must regularly register with the county sheriff.
Ohio sex offenders
Ohio law requires convicted sex offenders to regularly register with the county sheriff where they reside. The frequency and length of an offender’s registration post-prison is based on the tier the convicted sex offender is classified under.
Tier I: register annually for 15 years.
Tier II: register every 180 days for 25 years.
Tier III: register every 90 days for their lifetime.
Source: Ohio Attorney General’s Office.