Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon council considers downtown security cameras

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
January 25, 2008

VERNON - A rash of vandalism and graffiti in downtown Rockville has council members considering installation of security cameras at the Vernon Regional Adult Basic Education building on East Main Street.

And even as council members discussed the various issues and $4,500 price tag at their meeting Tuesday, police at the same time were responding to a report of vandals breaking the glass front of the "Buck or Two" dollar store just a few doors away.

Richard Tardiff, regional supervisor of the adult education program, said if the cameras had been installed they would have shown who broke the plate glass door at the dollar store.

"There would have been a direct link to the police station and the dispatchers would have seen it as it happened," Tardiff said.

As for his building, Tardiff says graffiti and vandalism has primarily occurred on the lower levels off the parking lot on the West Main Street side of the adult education building. The area has always been a magnet for petty crime because the corner is isolated, Tardiff said.

"We're just trying to be proactive here with something that could be mutually beneficial," he said. "At this point it's a matter of safety for our students, but it's also a deterrent for crime in the downtown area as well."

The regional program, which primarily runs on grants and support from the 19 area participating towns, serves 80 to 100 people daily, Tardiff said. The building has cameras installed inside, but the school didn't have the money to do the outside, Tardiff said, adding he is asking the town for the money because it will help the downtown Rockville section in general.

Not all council members agreed, however.

Republican council member Daniel Anderson had questions regarding privacy issues, while Bill Campbell, also a Republican, wanted to know who would maintain and monitor the cameras.

Daniel Champagne, a Vernon police officer and Republican council member, said privacy should not be a concern because the town already has cameras pointed at public spaces throughout town, including Rockville High School and Vernon Center Middle School, and they do help with investigations and cutting down on crime.

"These cameras tend to be a deterrent," Councilwoman Marie Herbst, a Democrat said. "We already have them in other places around town - what's the problem with here?"

Anderson pushed to have the matter sent to the council's public safety committee for further discussion. It will return to the Town Council in 60 days.

Meanwhile earlier Tuesday the Town Council in a special meeting voted unanimously to appropriate $330,000 to fix the slate shingle roof of the Vernon school administration building on Park Street.

Plans call for removing the roof turrets for repair and resealing, as well as lifting the granite dormer caps and repointing all granite sills. Brickwork will be reconstructed and slate shingles will need to be replaced in some areas.

Inside the building the plaster walls and ceilings need repairing, primarily in the rear stairwell area of the third floor where the roof has been leaking badly in recent years, town officials have said.

©Journal Inquirer 2008