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Cameras planned for troublesome areas

Devices on light poles are not cameras

A DEVICE on a light pole, upper left, on Brewery Grade, and one on signal lights at West Sixth and Webber streets, aren’t traffic-monitoring cameras as some fear, but cameras are planned for two troublesome areas.	 Kathy Ursprung photo

A DEVICE on a light pole, upper left, on Brewery Grade, and one on signal lights at West Sixth and Webber streets, aren’t traffic-monitoring cameras as some fear, but cameras are planned for two troublesome areas. Kathy Ursprung photo Photo by Kathy Ursprung.

— The City of The Dalles will soon be installing surveillance cameras at the Lewis and Clark Festival Area and nearby Union Street Marine Terminal to stop a growing problem of graffiti and vandalism.

Nolan Young, city manager, said the cameras will be set up in the two downtown locations to help law enforcement officials pursue cases against offenders.

Since the start of 2013, there have been 39 reported incidents of criminal activity in that section of downtown, according to records compiled by The Dalles Police Department. The most common complaint is that restrooms at the festival area are being “tagged” with spray paint and fire extinguishers stolen from the dock.

“There are a few people misbehaving and we don’t want to see them ruin it for everyone,” said Young. “The dock has been a great asset for this community and we want to modify behavior by letting people know that what they are doing is in plain sight.”

He said the cameras should be in place sometime in September.

Although some citizens think there are surveillance cameras set up at West Sixth and Webber streets, Young said that is not the case. He said what appears to be a camera that is mounted on a pole is used to change the light as needed to keep vehicles flowing through the intersection.

Other devices that appear to be cameras that are erected on light poles along Brewery Grade and other locations are used to expand the free internet “cloud” over public places throughout town.

“We don’t have a system in place to monitor traffic, that is not something The Dalles has decided to do,” he said. “We are just trying to enhance (wireless internet) coverage of the Marina and Riverfront Park with the device on Brewery Grade.”

He said the equipment is put up wherever service needs to be boosted so that residents have free wi-fi access. He said the areas currently covered include the downtown blocks and three nearby city parks, the commercial district along Sixth Street, the Discovery Center to the west and Kramer’s Field on the east end of town. He said service will soon be available at Sorosis Park through a partnership between the city, Google, Gorge Networks and Q-Life, the intergovernmental organization that runs the fiber optic loop in The Dalles.

The infrastructure for the service also includes placement of about 50 antennas around town, each two to three feet tall and mounted on private and public buildings, as well as streetlights.

Google initiated the wi-fi program in 2011 by providing the city with a $130,000 grant to cover equipment and installation costs. The city then went through the public bidding process to select Gorge Networks to perform the work. Q-Life also contributed $10,000 for installation of the fiber and $7,000 for the initial study.

For the latest expansion, Q-life has contributed $52,000 and Google $50,000. Per an agreement with Google, the system must be free for at least three years. After that point, the future of the system will be decided by the city.

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