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Peru police: Positive feedback at Baker Lake

Residents grateful for a place to go amid pandemic

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Peru opened up Baker Lake for people to get fresh air and sunshine – while staying 6 feet apart, please – and so far it’s worked well.

Monday, the Peru City Council learned the public has been largely cooperative and compliant since restrictions were loosened at the Peru park. While the restrooms and playground equipment still are off-limits, people can walk, jog, cycle and fish as long as they maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Overall, it’s been good,” Peru police chief Doug Bernabei told the council.

An officer in an all-terrain vehicle has been posted to remind people to observe the social distancing rules and there has, Bernabei said, been a small “but very vocal” contingent that has objected to being policed. The majority of visitors, however, have been “very appreciative” that Baker Lake is open and have complied with infection-control measures.

The access to an outdoor park was timely because there has been an unwelcome, but not unexpected, uptick in the police blotter. Bernabei reported that domestic disturbances have risen following a quiet first week under stay-at-home orders. With people “cooped up,” the volume of disturbance calls involving alcohol, drugs and mental health issues has crept up.

The volume isn’t overwhelming, Bernabei said, and is typical of what other have reported amid the pandemic. And aside from a notable increase in fender-benders during the early panic-buying period, police calls have been down.

“Generally crime is down during COVID-19,” Bernabei said, “which is obviously a good thing.”

The council took other steps to ease the strain on residents and businesses.

Yard-waste stickers? You still need to buy the bags, but the sticker requirement has been waived for the duration of the pandemic.

Liquor licenses? Businesses still need to meet state requirements and show proof of compliance, but the council waived the $500 a year fee for the remainder of 2020 for about 50 licensees.

And the council may yet participate in the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Grant Program, which could help eligible businesses to seek grants to stay afloat during the novel coronavirus pandemic, but so far no one has applied.

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