Thursday, August 4, 2016

Pokémon Go go

Officials concerned with presence 
of Pokémon near Fire Department

Small digital critters have caused quite a stir in Providence, thanks to their presence on city property. In recent weeks it has become such a problem, in fact, that city officials are looking for a solution.

The creatures in question are fictional creatures from the new Pokémon Go app, available for free on smartphones. The game requires players to search out such creatures on a GPS map of their area. 

Some places, including a church in Sacramento, Kentucky, have taken advantage of the craze by hosting Pokémon Go hunting parties. The Cincinnati Zoo has even offered a $5 discount to Pokémon Go users.

Others, such as a number of cemeteries around the county, have had to involve law enforcement to have players removed. The Naples Zoo in Florida has put up signs warning guests not to try and hunt Pokémon in the restricted zoo areas. Also in Florida, a man fired two shots at Pokémon players parked in a car outside his house.

Providence police and fire officials have been concerned since the game’s launch, stating that there have been a number of near accidents in front of the 911 Dispatch on Willow Street, across from the police station, but the final straw was recently when a local resident experienced a medical emergency.

It was reported by councilman Keith Ferrall at Monday night’s council meeting that a resident was recently trying to get to the fire department to seek emergency medical attention, but couldn’t because the parking lot was overrun with Pokémon Go players.

The incident had a happy ending, but concerns over what might have been have city officials worried.
“Let’s get it moved,” said Mayor Eddie Gooch.

The area around the Fire Department and Public Library are what is known in the game as a Poké Stop, a location at which players can purchase items needed inside the game world. As the library offers free public WiFi, it regularly draws crowds of players.

Librarian Misty Ashcraft explained that players can use items in the game to attract more creature to their area. As users often congregate in the vicinity of the fire department and library, there tends to be a lot of Pokémon in that area.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in traffic through the library,” she said. “It hasn’t caused us any problems. It’s probably even been good for us.”

She said there is some concern about the large number of people hanging around the building after hours, but it has yet to cause the library any problems.

Council members agreed on Monday night that the city needed to contact the programers of Pokémon Go to request having the 911 Dispatch and Fire Department blocked from the game. Due to its proximity to the Library, which is located in the same building, that block will likely knock library users out of playing the game as well.

Gooch suggested as an alternative the city could unlock the WiFi at the city park near the elementary school. He instructed Fire Chief Brad Curry to look into that possibility. However, as the park is not a  Poké Stop, users will likely be frustrated by the decision.

Anyone having an issue with Pokémon can send requests to have areas blocked by visiting the website:

City officials want to remind residents that the parking spaces in front of the 911 office are for emergency use only, not for gaming.

 at 270-667-2068 or

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