Less than 24 hours after South Fayette designated a safe location at the municipal building for people to meet to complete Internet purchase transactions, residents flooded social media with positive feedback.
The Internet purchase exchange location, which is under surveillance 24/7, was installed Wednesday morning by the public works department at the township municipal building at 515 Millers Run Road. Andrea Iglar, the township’s community development director, posted the information on Facebook and Twitter that evening at 5:30.
“All of a sudden, it started racking up numbers and I couldn’t believe it,” Ms. Iglar said. “When I came in Thursday morning and saw the enormous response, I was shocked.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the Facebook post had reached nearly 150,000 people. Almost 4,000 people had shared it, and 7,900 people had reacted to it. On the original post alone, there were over 200 comments. “We knew this would be a nice service, but it wasn’t until we saw the comments that we realized how important this is to the community,” Ms. Iglar said.
The idea was first suggested by township Commissioner Lisa Malosh, who was acting on a resident’s comments on social media regarding a similar program in Peters. “I just forwarded the information to our township manager and asked if this was something that made sense for us,” she said.
The police department already served as a place where court-ordered custody exchanges could be made, and a video surveillance system was installed two months earlier inside and outside the municipal building. So, creating a designated exchange location was easy to implement.
South Fayette resident Sherida Glover uses Craigslist for buying and selling. “I would use it in a heartbeat and intend to use Craigslist more, now that I have a safe drop place,” she said.
Resident Tim Nagy said, “Yes, I would use it.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the comments have been positive,” police Chief John Phoennik said. Negative comments have been mostly centered around fears of Big Brother. “That is not the way I see it,” Chief Phoennik said. “I view it as: There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place anyway, so why not make the exchange here — where you’re on video — and you’re safe.”
Chief Phoennik said South Fayette is the third community in the area to incorporate a safe Internet purchase exchange location. Peters and North Fayette have similar sites near their municipal buildings. Since Ms. Iglar posted the information on social media, Chief Phoennik has received calls about the program. “I even heard from Bridgeville’s police chief. Residents are calling him asking for the same,” Chief Phoennik said.
Ms. Malosh is pleased that township staff was responsive to the resident’s idea. “Our team took action and made it happen.”
Amy Philips-Haller, freelance writer; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note, posted March 4, 2016: In an earlier version of this story, the last three paragraphs were omitted.
First Published March 3, 2016 10:33 PM