County parks and gardens addresses trail camera at splash pad

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Parents want answers after several over the weekend noticed a trail camera mounted overlooking the splash pad at Hugh MacRae Park.

This is the first official summer the play area has been open to the public. Images of the cameras mounted on a tree caused many on social media to be on edge. We went to the county parks and gardens for answers.

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In fact, the cameras are the county’s.

“The cameras are up for vandalism and graffiti purposes. They are checked after an incident has occurred if there is any sign on there of catching the perp that vandalized or graffitied anything, we take the pictures and give them to the Sheriff’s department and everything else on the camera is erased,” says New Hanover County parks and gardens supervisor Ryan Kondor.

We reached out to many parents at the play area who were unnerved by the cameras because they are trail cameras, not a normal security camera most would expect a public entity to use.

“I mean at first seeing the camera, the type of camera, I was a little alarmed by that,” says Allie Worth who was enjoying the splash pad with her kids.

Worth adds that the worry was calmed when a mother posted on social media that the camera’s belonged to the county.

“I feel fine about it as long as we know that’s who it is,” Worth says.

The cameras have been up for weeks now at the park according to Kondor. He says they are trail cameras that shoot multi-still images. He adds that, if there is no reported acts of vandalism that day they were in use, the memory cards are wiped and no images are even looked at.

“That’s all it is is safety. I mean that’s what the whole purpose of us working here is keeping a clean, safe, friendly park for the visitors of New Hanover County to New Hanover County and park patrons, locals to come and enjoy,” Kondor says.

We also reached out to the parks and gardens director Tara Duckworth who says the department apologizes for making families uncomfortable with the cameras, but that their intention is to protect taxpayer property. That’s because the park has had constant acts of vandalism.

“People breaking glass bottles on the building, and some had set our park sign on fire. Those are the reasons why the cameras were put up,” says the supervisor.

The parks department does intend to continue using the cameras on a rotation; using them at different locations in the park as well as at different times.