ST. ALBANS CITY — The St. Albans City Council, in order to deter criminal activity, has approved the installation of the video surveillance cameras in Taylor Park. Also discussed at Monday night’s meeting was the cost and timing of restoring of the park’s historic fountain.
The council approved the installation of three video cameras at a cost of $5,600 with an additional $120 per month to Comcast for fiber optic transmission of the video feed to police headquarters.
The city already has cameras in Houghton Park, the courthouse parking lot and at the city pool. Signs notify the public that cameras are present in those areas.
The courthouse parking lot was once a site for drug deals. “There have been no incidents there, none, since we redid that parking lot and put in the cameras,” explained Chief of Police Gary Taylor. “Where we have utilized video surveillance, we have negated criminal activity.”
Ward 6 Alderman Chad Spooner, who lives next to Houghton Park, said he had “nothing but good things to say about cameras in Houghton Park.” Since the cameras were installed vandalism and illegal dumping of trash in the park have stopped, he said.
Video feeds from the cameras are monitored in real time by dispatchers at the police station, said Taylor.
The video images are stored on a DVR and recorded over when they’re not needed for an investigation, explained Taylor. However, he recommended that the city council convene a committee to set a policy for the handling the video files, including addressing privacy concerns and how long the video may be kept.
Mayor Liz Gamache said she will create an ad hoc committee to propose an overall policy for the operation of the cameras.
There also will be 10 cameras in the new parking garage set for construction next year, eight in the garage itself, one at the entrance and one at the exit.
Taylor Park fountain
With more solid cost projections for the restoration of the Taylor Park fountain, the city council must now consider when to undertake the repairs and how to pay for it.
Robinson Iron, which owns the molds for the zinc-based fountain, has given the city a price tag of $137,000 to repair the fountain, including recasting most of the statuary in aluminum, explained Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Young.
The firm spends the spring and summer installing fountains with restorations done in the winter months. In order to have the fountain repaired before the St. Albans Raid anniversary commemoration in September 2014, the fountain would need to be taken down and sent to Robinson Iron in Alabama within the next few weeks, explained Young.
Total cost of the project is likely to be between $250,000 and $300,000, including a new base, plumbing, and a walkway around the fountain.
Initial estimates from earlier this year had put the cost of repairing the fountain at $500,000. Asked how the estimates had been reduced so dramatically, Young replied, “We threw in the kitchen sink.” As the list of what should be done narrowed, the cost came down, he suggested.
In addition, Robinson Iron gave a fixed cost for the repair of the fountain itself and suggested a less expensive approach to creating a new base and pool for the fountain.
There are only seven fountains of this type left in the U.S. and St. Albans has the largest, said Young.
The council decided to schedule a meeting for later this month to present information about the fountain restoration to the public.
Options for funding the repair of the fountain include a public bond and private fundraising.