By Nick Worth
The Holbrook City Council heard from two citizens during a call to the public at their meeting Tuesday evening.
“I see no value in setting up cameras at each end of town,” Dan Duran told the council. “I am opposed to setting up cameras because the money could be used for something else.”
He gave the council several suggestions he felt would be a better use of over $50,000.
“The city could hire kids in the summer to cut weeds,” Duran said. “Scholarships could be given to go to school at NPC (Northland Pioneer College). That could keep the kids here, instead of them going down to the Valley.
“There are a lot of different things that could be done,” he said. He suggested a recycling program to buy back the bottles that get littered around town.
Duran told the council the scholarship idea was his favorite.
“I’ve never heard of a city offering scholarships, but it’s about time somebody started, instead of having kids running the streets,” Duran said. “We could be planting trees.”
Leo Maestas then told the council he is a strong supporter of law enforcement, but he worries about the ramifications of technology closing post offices and wonders about how technology will affect banks.
“I don’t think there’s a better deterrent in a municipality than a police officer parked in his car,” Maestas said. “The only people capitalizing on this are the people installing the cameras.
“Our highway system is doing away with them,” Maestas said. He said he was concerned over speeding tickets being given to tourists.
“We’re a tourist-oriented town and we get a lot of bed tax from those people,” he said.
Afterwards, Maestas said he was mistakenly under the impression the city was thinking of installing speed cameras, rather than surveillance cameras.
“I fully support surveillance cameras,” he said.
City Manager Ray Alley later noted several people had been confused about the proposed video camera system and thought it was a speed camera rather than a surveillance system.
On the issue of the cameras, the council discussed the needed telemetry system for the water works, which includes a data network that could also be used for the surveillance system.
Norm Freeman of Essential Data Control Systems, Inc. (EDCS) told the council the water system needs new pressure sensors and upgraded telemetry to the existing wells, upgraded software, a new Windows 8 computer for the Water Department office and telemetry installed on the new No. 7 well.
EDCS was named sole provider for the city’s telemetry system at the last council meeting in September.
“Before we installed the first system, the city was spending tens of thousands of dollars on overtime and fuel to have city employees drive to the water works to reset pumps, and turn them on and off,” Freeman said.
He said the current system uses radios that cost over $1,500 each, while the new system uses ethernet radios that cost less than $500 each.
“We discovered that old technology to put on Well No. 7 would cost more than to use upgraded technology,” Freeman said. He urged the use of cameras to monitor city assets.
“You could install stationary cameras at city assets to protect city assets,” Freeman said. “These are not photo radar cameras. These are a tool for law enforcement, not to take over law enforcement.”
Freeman told the council, as an example, if an officer got a call, he could pull up that camera on his laptop or vehicle terminal to see what’s going on before he arrives at the scene.
He advised the council to put in a system capable of taking care of future needs. He said the total cost of the water telemetry upgrade and the data network would be $55,662.80. The proposal does not include any surveillance cameras.
The council then discussed whether the wireless data network for the telemetry system could serve as a wi-fi system for the city.
Freeman said more band width would be needed to cover the entire city and that a wi-fi system for the city would be similar to cell phone band width. It could possibly become a utility for the town, and would be on different channels than the city is on.
“Fifty-five thousand is not out of line,” said Councilman Wade Carlisle. “Every Ace Hardware store has a $30,000 system in there. It’s expensive.
“Fifty-five thousand is not a lot of money for what it’s doing,” he continued. “I guarantee if you start driving people around to check the water system, it will add up to more than that.”
“When it comes to the cameras, me, I want to put the brakes on,” said Mayor Jeff Hill. “For me, person-ally, council, I’m all for the $55,000 to ensure a safe drinking water supply.”
The council then approved the proposed upgrade to the water system.
Alley added that in the last week, the city has experienced a lot of vandalism.
“Just in this last week we’ve had our swimming pool broken into and $1000 in damage was done,” he said. “We’ve had graffiti sprayed around town. We’ve had bicycles ride through new road cement. The street light was broken across from the Dairy Queen again.
“Just in this last week, if we’d had these cameras there’s a good chance we could have caught these vandals,” Alley said.
“When it comes to the cameras, we do want to have a work session,” said Hill.
Alley agreed he wants to have a public work session on the subject.
By Nick Worth