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Woodstock City Council revisits $50K security camera proposed for the Square

Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager opens a City Council meeting Aug. 1, 2017, to hear comments from the public about a proposed sales tax increase.
Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager opens a City Council meeting Aug. 1, 2017, to hear comments from the public about a proposed sales tax increase.

The Woodstock City Council revisited plans this week for surveillance cameras on the historic Square.

A discussion on the idea of installing security cameras in the area was brought up during a January budget workshop, and now the city may be closer to securing funding for it.

The city’s capital improvement plan projects the cost to be about $50,000.

State Rep. Steve Reick is in the process of seeking a $50,000 state-funded grant that could go toward project, Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager said.

“[Reick] approached the city and asked, ‘What are some things that are out there?’ ” Sager said. “There is a particular interest in capital improvement projects, but public safety projects are also strongly considered.”

If Woodstock were to receive the funding, its top public safety priority would be for Square surveillance, Sager said.

“They haven’t been approved yet,” Sager said. “We don’t know.”

City Council member Jim Prindiville said he has concerns about the idea because the security cameras would take away any semblance of privacy in the public park on the Square.

It’s possible the insides of private businesses also could be seen on the cameras, which would cause a privacy problem, he said.

“It seems the criminal activity is happening in parking lots and places like that,” he said.

The Woodstock Police Department, City Hall and recreation center all are under the watch of security cameras, according to city documents.

But the majority of City Council members favored the idea during the January discussion, and they said they haven’t changed their opinions.

“It’s important in today’s world that we are always looking for ways to keep kids and communities safe,” council member Gordie Tebo said. “I wouldn’t want [the cameras] to go on private property, but we can just not do that.”

Council member Mike Turner said residents and business owners frequently ask what the city can do to improve safety, and this would be a good course of action.

“I generally support the concept here,” he said. “Appropriately placed cameras to record anything that happens that is breaking the law would be worth having.”

Turner and council members Mark Saladin and Maureen Larson all said they would like to see the city’s legal team, police department and administration determine where on the Square the cameras should go if funding is secured.

The discussion occurred after Tuesday’s agenda was exhausted before adjournment because Prindiville wanted to bring forth the matter for a future agenda discussion.

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