More than 7,000 park passes have been ordered and printed for the 2011/2012 season and city officials are highlighting a few changes when residents are picking up their new cards.
This year's pass has a bar code on the bottom half of the card, which must be scanned by a gate attendant upon entering the . The scanning technology and related technology are being installed now and will likely be ready for use by next week, Woods Recreation Supervisor Melissa Sharp said.
The bar codes serve many purposes, including better security for park users, which is in part what prompted the change following in the men's locker room when a young boy was approached by an unknown man. When the boy tried to ignore the man's advances, the man urinated on the boy, according to St. Clair Shores police.
City officials had been discussing making changes to the park entrance procedure for quite some time but that particular situation likely forced the decision. City Council approved the changes earlier this year.
In addition to the better level of security, the bar-coded passes will allow Sharp and other city employees to analyze the park's use more formally to know the peak times for traffic.
The gate attendants are required to scan the cards for each person in a vehicle and Sharp said drivers should prepare ahead of time by gathering all of the passes from passengers and having them ready when it is their turn with the attendant.
All residents with the exception of children younger than 6 years old must have a pass, Sharp said. Although the change may slow the entrance process a bit, Sharp believes residents will adjust quickly.
"I think anything new we do, it usually takes a while to get used to," Sharp said. "For the most part we are receiving positive response."
Residents are being told of the change and the request to have all passes ready at the gate when they pick up their actual pass at the Woods Community Center. "Most people are glad we're being diligent and want to protect the park," Sharp said.
Employees have already participated in two trainings and will have one additional session to address the software program, Sharp said. Another feature of the bar code is that it will allow the city to flag a pass that has been suspended for inappropriate behavior or other problems, meaning gate attendants will know immediately if a person has been prohibited from using the park, Sharp said.
Until now, preventing those people from entering was based solely on the memories of the gate attendants, who see hundreds of people any given day, Sharp said.
Guest tracking will also be monitored through the system allowing an attendant to see if the maximum number of guests has been reached for that year.
Meanwhile, seven additional security cameras are being installed at the park near the entrance and the bathhouse. The installation is happening now and the system should be operational soon, Sharp said.
Passes may be picked up from the Grosse Pointe Woods Community Center on Mack Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For returning residents the process takes only a few minutes and Sharp said the new application process has actually reduced the lines for pickup this year.
Last year's pass will expire April 30, which is when the new bar-coded pass takes effect.