Concerns are being raised in Bellport Village about people playing Pokémon Go — and, thus, not watching where they’re walking — in Osborne Park and around the village’s marina.
But no one is quite sure what to do about it just yet.
“This Pokémon craze has created a buzz of kids, adults as well, who have been down by the dock, down everywhere and it’s becoming a nuisance, really,” said Trustee Steve Mackin. “There are a lot of kids hanging out, and I just don’t get how all these kids are allowed to be out after hours.”
He assured during Monday morning’s Village Board meeting that the board is working to “figure it out,” while acknowledging he’s not sure what that might entail.
Nintendo’s wildly popular video game app is played on smartphones in what’s called augmented reality. That involves superimposing computer-generated characters on a person’s real-world view through the phone.
Pokémon GO utilizes maps of real places like Bellport Village, using Google Maps.
(See below for a complete explanation from greaterpatchogue.com.)
Bellport Village Trustee Bob Rosenberg cited news reports that the app’s developers are working to remove locations that don’t want to be part of the game.
“So there is a process that’s being put in place,” Rosenberg said.
“Safety should be paramount to anything and everything we do to contribute to the experience of this village,” added Trustee and Deputy Mayor Joseph Gagliano, who led the morning meeting in Mayor Ray Fell’s absence.
One resident, who identified himself as Len Groopman, took to the mic and expressed concern that in Bellport Village and elsewhere in the country, policy and legislation is being driven by fear, and not actual problems.
“What’s unsafe about having kids out at 4 o’clock in the morning on their bikes?” he asked. “Does that violate something, or is it just making us uncomfortable?”
Trustee Michael Ferrigno, whose home borders the boat trailer lot to the immediate north of the park and marina, said people are now hanging out in the area throughout the overnight hours.
He added that people were congregating in the lot from 11 p.m. to about 4 a.m. this Friday into Saturday, “without interruption,” he said.
“This has been going on since the Nintendo craze began,” Ferrigno, said. “They choose to stay in the trailer parking lot [after the marina lot closes at 11 p.m.] and it becomes a social area.”
He’s asked the board to consider stretching a chain across the lot after hours.
“At no time are we saying to residents, we don’t want children riding their bikes,” he said.
Former trustee Leslie O’Connor, who also spoke at the meeting, said safety is a real concern with people playing Pokémon near the docks.
“The concern for safety is genuine, not from an overreaction,” O’Connor said. “I’ve heard report after report of people doing Pokémon and walking into crosswalks, getting hit by cars. They’re not watching where they’re going because they have to look at their screens too frequently …”
“I would have grave concerns about this happening int the dock area,” she added. “It would be easy for somebody to go over [into the bay] in the dark of night, even though we do have some lights.
“I would urge the board to look at that very seriously.”
She expressed relief the developers are working on a possible exclusion option for the app.
One village resident, Jenny Coffey of New Jersey Avenue, said she recently witnessed someone walk into a fence that borders her property. When she called out to see if he was OK, the young man responded that he was just playing Pokémon.
“He had a gash on his head and it made me think, could I be held responsible for something like that?” she said.
Photo: The Bellport Village marina as it appeared Saturday morning. (Michael White)
Pokémon go explained simply: