Barlow: System will 'prevent vandalism and offer more protection' to public investments 

OSWEGO — Several recently improved public areas in the Port City are under 24-hour video surveillance as officials attempt to curb vandalism and protect recent investments.

Mayor Billy Barlow announced Wednesday the city is establishing a network of security cameras in the busiest portions of downtown Oswego to deter would-be hooligans or assist police in apprehending vandals. City officials are also planning to install cameras at Breitbeck Park and Wright’s Landing Marina to safeguard recent and future investments.

In a Wednesday press release, Barlow said the city recently completed the $1.5 million state Route 104 Complete Streets and the Water Street Square pocket park, which he called “two major public space improvement projects.” Barlow said the security cameras are “designed and intended to prevent vandalism” of the more than $2 million investment to public space completed this summer.

“As we invest in our community, we need to take additional measures to prevent vandalism, keep up on required maintenance and hold those who choose to damage public or private property accountable,” Barlow said. “Our cameras will give local law enforcement an additional tool to identify vandals, utilize surveillance footage during investigations and offer property owners and the general public additional protection as they enjoy our downtown.”

With the city nearing the finish line on Water Street Square and the state Route 104 improvements, several projects included in the city’s $10 million 2016 state Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award are being finalized and a handful of others  are under construction.

Downtown security cameras are positioned on state Route 104, along the west riverwalk and in the nearly completed Water Street Square. Officials said the installation would cover the public space between West Oneida Street and West Cayuga Street, from the riverwalk to West Second Street.

“Downtown Oswego is undergoing a positive transformation unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory,” said Common Council Vice President Kevin Hill, R-3rd Ward. “The improvements to state Route 104, Water Street and the creation of Water Street Square are amenities that will make our community a more attractive place for residents and visitors alike.”

Hill said the city has an obligation to protect the community’s assets and the recent investment of more than $2 million made to improve downtown, as well as the people who enjoy the Port City’s downtown. 

With the exception of flowers being ripped out of some of the city’s new planters, Barlow said there were no serious acts of vandalism in recent memory that prompted the installation. He noted there were no major incidents or damage during Harborfest, but officials felt it was important to add a layer of protection.

“This is more of a proactive deterrent to prevent vandals from targeting our new improvements and protecting downtown property owners’ property as they do improvements,” the mayor said. 

In total, 26 cameras are being installed, Barlow said, with roughly 20 in the downtown and riverwalk areas, four spread throughout Breitbeck Park and a couple at Wright’s Landing. Twelve of the cameras have already been installed, he said, with the remaining scheduled to go online in the coming weeks.

Police Chief Tory DeCaire called the cameras “just one additional tool for law enforcement,” saying “there is no doubt” the system would “serve as a force multiplier and investigative tool” for police. DeCaire said the cameras would add a layer of security and complement officers in the field, serving as an additional resource for investigating property crimes or other incidents.

“Having the ability to see what’s happening in multiple areas in real time, as well as being able to review footage, will be invaluable to aid in our investigations,” the police chief said. “With the recent investment and enhancements occurring in the city, we anticipate more and more people will be enjoying the city’s facilities. It only makes sense to utilize technology to help protect them and the city’s investment.”

Despite the presence of security cameras, DeCaire said “no level of security is a substitute for personal safety awareness” and anyone in need of emergency assistance should call 911 immediately. 

City officials said the total project cost for the cameras and equipment is approximately $7,000, with the city’s technology department carrying out the installation. 

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