Wednesday, June 19, 2013
By Paul Koenig
BELGRADE -- Town officials hope new security cameras will deter troublemakers from misbehaving at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons during unsupervised hours.
Town officials recently agreed to buy eight video cameras to be installed at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons to deter vandalism and other mischief.
An eight-camera system for the community building and recreation areas will be installed in response to vandalism and mischief, according to Town Manager Greg Gill. Selectmen approved the purchase recently.
"We're just trying to deter some of the stuff that's been happening because it is town property, and we're trying to protect it," he said.
Over the last year, chairs have been thrown into the swimming pool during off hours, beer bottles have been found outside, there's been graffiti on walls inside and a spilled gallon of paint in the parking lot, Gill said.
"Nothing big, but it's on a very tight budget down there, so we have to watch everything," he said.
The $500 camera system will be paid for by the center's capital reserve fund, according to Gill.
Valencia Schubert, director of recreation at the center, called the security issues mostly vandalism and mischief.
"This is just a preventive measure. Our deepest hope is once they see the cameras, we won't have to worry about incidents again," Schubert said.
Gill agreed. "A lot of it, I think, is if people see the cameras, they have different attitude of what they're doing," he said.
Gill said the cameras have been ordered and will be installed once they arrive, likely within the next couple weeks.
The Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons houses the town's recreation department. It also houses the library, but that's moving to its new location, 124 Depot Road, on Dec. 18. The center offers recreation, educational and community activities year round for residents and members of the public.
Outside resources like a basketball court and docks for swimming during the summer can be accessed at any time, since they aren't gated, Gill said.
There are also rooms for rent at the center, which are ispected before and after they're used Gill said.
He said the issues the town has encountered are expected with such a heavily used community center.
Gill said vandalism has been reported to police who have patroled the parking lot on some nights, but it hasn't deterred mischief.
The town doesn't have a police force, but relies on coverage from state police and the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office.
Schubert said she doesn't know where cameras will be installed, but some will cover the entrance and parking lot, as well as inside the building. "They will be visible, so people will know they're there," she said.
Gill said video from the cameras can be viewed and recorded both on-site and online by town officials.
Recordings also will remain available to look at if something is discovered after the fact.
He said the security camera system is the same as one that was installed at the transfer station a month and a half ago to deter people from dropping things off outside the gate when the station is closed.
Only four of the eight cameras have been installed at the dump, so Gill said it's too early to notice if they've made a difference. He said the town is waiting to finish maintenance on some buildings before installing the rest of the cameras.
The specific problems at the transfer station and recreation center are different, but Gill said the cameras at both are part of a larger effort to keep up with the expansion of services in the town.
"Another eye in the sky, I guess they call it," he said.
Paul Koenig -- 621-5663