'Pokemon Go' traffic near Arlington Heights park prompts complaints

 
 
Updated 4/30/2018 6:19 PM
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  • Nearby residents of Memorial Park in Arlington Heights have complained about increased traffic in the quiet neighborhood because of gamers playing "Pokemon Go."

      Nearby residents of Memorial Park in Arlington Heights have complained about increased traffic in the quiet neighborhood because of gamers playing "Pokemon Go." Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2010

The Arlington Heights Park District will ask the creators of "Pokemon Go" to remove a park from the augmented reality game after residents complained of increased traffic in their otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Memorial Park -- bounded by Fremont Street, Chestnut Avenue and Park Place -- is one of the real-world locations where users of the gaming app can visit to collect virtual characters that pop up on their phone screens. Neighbors have complained to the park district about people driving around the park in their cars, while apparently using the app, according to park board President Maryfran Leno.

She said so far no concerns have arisen due to the 135-year-old park -- the oldest in Arlington Heights -- being home to monuments, bronze markers and commemorative bricks honoring veterans. A viral online video from July 2016 -- shortly after the launch of the game -- documented an encounter between veterans upset with gamers using a similar memorial park in Winona, Minnesota.

"We want to make sure people are following our rules and at the same time enjoying the outdoors, but this (park), because it's such a tight location because of the houses, they've contacted us with safety concerns," Leno said.

Nearby residents came to the park district not long after the game craze began, leading officials to consult with the police department. Complaints subsided until recently, Leno said, prompting the park board to direct their staff to contact the "Pokemon Go" publisher, Niantic, to see if Memorial Park could be removed as a gaming site.

Three locations in the park are designated as "Pokestops," and one spot is a "gym," or training location, according to an online map.

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