**UPDATE issued July 27, 2016 **
City Takes Preventative Measures and Requests Removal of All City-owned Addresses from Pokémon Go
Released by Tameka Kenan-Norman
As Pokémon Go continues to grow in popularity, so do accidents caused by distracted gameplay. Throughout the country, numerous accidents have been reported, and while the city of Rocky Mount has not had any incidents reported on any of its properties so far, officials are taking preventative measures to ensure the public’s safety.
“When the game was first released, there wasn’t any mechanism that would allow us to give any feedback to where the stops and gyms should or should not be located,” says Michael Baughn, property and risk manager for the city of Rocky Mount. “Many of the places the game sends players to are just not safe for the public or for our employees.”
Baughn says places like electrical substations, fire stations, the wastewater treatment plants and numerous other areas can cause safety issues, especially for distracted players.
“If we could assign where the stops are, I think it could be something the city could entertain,” says Baughn. “But without knowing where all the stops and gyms are, we cannot do our due diligence as required by law. The safety of our residents and employees is paramount for us.”
About 134 city addresses are on the requested removal list, including all parks, the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, and the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences.
(Ed. Note: See additional information released August 2, 2016, regarding keeping Pokémon Go in city parks here.)
Original Release from July 21, 2016
City Stresses Safety and Fun for Pokémon Go Players
Released by Tameka Kenan-Norman, City of Rocky Mount NC
Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game where players attempt to capture, train and battle the game’s creatures, has taken the nation by storm. In fact, gamers may be found throughout the city using their cell phones to play the game. Places like the Rocky Mount Sports Complex and the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences have gyms and pokestops.
“We have two pokestops and three gyms here at the Imperial Centre and encourage gamers to experience both Pokemon Go and all the Imperial Centre has to offer,” says Sheila Long, recreation services supervisor for the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences. “We would ask that players only play during regular park or facility hours and that they refrain from playing Pokemon Go on the fields at the Sports Complex.”
Along with fun, officials also stress safety; therefore, fire stations, substations and the police department are off-limits to players.
“We have had folks phone our fire stations at 1:30am asking us to open up so they could play the game,” says Mike Varnell, fire chief for the city of Rocky Mount. “When we receive an emergency call, our men and women have 90 seconds to get the trucks rolling out the door. Playing the game on the ramp of a fire station, especially at night, creates a life safety concern.”
Rocky Mount joins a growing number of cities, including Los Angeles, California and Cicero, New York, asking Pokemon Go players not to play in front of fire stations or other emergency agencies.
“Our greatest concern is for the safety of our citizens and our firefighters,” says Varnell. “A game is not worth a life. We are here to serve, and for us to do that, our access ramps need to remain clear.”