Published on July 8, 2008 in the Antrim Review
(Archived version (with error of Heidi Berden as author) available at www.antrimreview.net)
By Melissa Lee
In their regularly scheduled meeting last Wednesday, the Bellaire Village Council approved the purchase of surveillance cameras for both Richardi Park and downtown, despite the fact that Police Chief Brad Rowe was against the idea.
Explaining himself, Rowe said that he believed the cameras would not help end ongoing vandalism issues in the park. “I’m a bit skeptical,” he said. “If kids are determined to cause problems, they’re going to cause problems. The cameras will be just one more thing they can vandalize.”
Other members of the Council believed, however, that just the knowledge that the cameras were in place might serve to deter further vandalism. “As a taxpayer, I would much rather spend my money on something that could prevent vandalism and crime than on cleanup efforts,” Council member Dave Schultz said.
Council member Brent Nelson said he believed the cameras might improve tourism potential. “I never travel anywhere anymore without getting online and checking out the video of what’s going on in the town,” he said. “This could end up being a huge draw for Bellaire.”
Agreeing with Nelson, Council Executive Janet Person noted that cameras could be repositioned whenever needed to capture village events like Midnight Basketball and Friday Night Music.
Additionally, the server needed to place camera videos online could double as a server for wireless internet in the downtown area, Person said, but added there are still questions to be answered regarding that possibility. After a motion to purchase and install two cameras for no more than $7,500 was approved with two Council members in opposition, Person said that they should be up and running within the next couple of weeks.
In other matters, the Council reviewed a resolution to create a Downtown Development Authority district and discussed possible implementation of the Tax Increment Finance Authority Act.
The TIFA Act, used as income by DDA’s to prevent urban deterioration and encourage revitalization and redevelopment, allows a portion of a city or village’s tax dollars to fund improvement projects within DDA boundaries.
In a roll-call vote, it was decided to hold a public hearing on August 6 at 6 p.m. on the matter. Information regarding the proposal will be available to the public, and comments will be accepted.
Jack Unger approached the Council to propose building new offices on property he owns on Portage Street for the Village to rent. Noting that considering a relocation might be a bit premature, Council President Butch Dewey referred the matter to the Village’s Property and Buildings committee at Unger’s request.
In a special moment, former longtime Police Chief Jim Baker’s pistol was presented by Baker’s widow Sandy to her grandson, Nathan Graham, a recent police academy graduate, as the Council and audience applauded.