Keeping kids safe or infringing on one's rights is a debate in Ansonia where the city is looking at limiting where sex offenders can go, specifically when it comes to parks and playgrounds.
Under the ordinance, the city of Ansonia wants to create what it would call "Child Safety Zones.” That means playgrounds and the ball fields at places like the Ansonia Nature Center would be off limits to those on the sex offender registry.
"I think it’s a good idea,” parent Merissa Lawlor said. “I mean, I have a 3-and-a-half year old and that's the most terrifying thing to me."
Lawlor said as a parent, she worries about a potential predator at a park or playground.
The "child safety zones,” would be places like a public park, playground, ball field, school or library. It would be illegal for a registered sex offender to be there.
Ansonia would base its ordinance, the language and the law, off one already on the books in Danbury.
"I fully support it because you don't want sex offenders in your parks where children are playing,” James Richards, of Ansonia, said.
"I think it would be a big plus if they were kept away from children,” Lawlor said.
According to the state sex offender registry website, there are 25 sex offenders in Ansonia.
The big question for residents is how difficult would it be to enforce and would you even know if the person at the park or playground is on the list.
For enforcement, the city said they will have to install signs, declaring the area a child safety zone. Any sex offender caught in one of the designated areas, would first get a written warning.
If found again, they would be looking at a $250 fine.
The city will hold a public hearing on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., followed by a special board of alderman meeting to follow, in which they'll take up the proposal.
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