The Meridian District and the City of Yankton are about to embark on a program to make an area landmark a little bit safer.
During its regular meeting Monday night, the Yankton City Commission voted unanimously to provide up to $5,000 from the BBB (bed, board and booze) fund for a pilot program to install surveillance cameras in the Meridian Plaza and near the Meridian Bridge in light of some major instances of vandalism in the area over the past year.
Yankton City Manager Amy Leon told the board an unnamed donor has come forward to help make downtown more secure.
“We’ve looked at and talked about cameras in our public spaces before,” Leon said. “The Meridian District has a donor who’s come forward and agreed to purchase some cameras, and they’ve asked us if we were willing to partner with them for a pilot program for some cameras to be placed in the plaza/bridge area.”
Chris Hunhoff — speaking on behalf of Onward Yankton, the Meridian District and RiverWalk — went over some of the basic results of an online survey the Meridian District conducted over the summer.
One of the numbers that stuck out was that 70% of respondents felt that additional security was necessary downtown, he said.
“It’s not that people don’t feel safe downtown,” Hunhoff said. “If you go through the comments, people mention the implementation of security cameras through downtown.”
He said that some community partners are looking to do something about it.
“As a joint project between the Meridian District, Onward Yankton and RiverWalk, we’d like to start a pilot program for cameras,” he said. “The plan is to place four security cameras in the plaza area.”
The entities would partner with Yankton Wireless to provide connectivity to a cloud-based system which the Yankton Police Department would have access to as needed. The system would be expandable as needed. The cameras would be owned by the Meridian District.
The city would provide signage and the electrical system.
Public Works Director Adam Haberman said ample power exists to feed the camera system — with one major drawback.
“Right now there is power going across the Meridian Bridge for the existing lights that are there,” he said. “The unfortunate thing is is they’re powered off of a photo eye at either end of the bridge, so they’re on during the dark hours and off during the daylight. We’ll have to explore if we can tap into that power somehow or if we’re going to have to run a whole new leg of power to wherever we need outlets established, and we’re still working on that.”
He said this will dictate the timeline for when the cameras could be installed.
Solar panels would be an option but cost an extra $500 per camera, according to Hunhoff.
Mayor Nathan Johnson said he sees positives in such a pilot program.
“This is a really great sign of the success that we’re having with downtown that we have private partners stepping forward and wanting to become involved to protect what we’ve done (and) be a part of the future, too, and helping people feel confident about the investments they’re making downtown,” Johnson said.
Leon said the city will draft a memorandum of understanding to sign with the Meridian District.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Heard a presentation from Connecting Cultures.
• Approved the 99-year lease agreement between the city and Yankton Youth Soccer Association.
• Issued a proclamation for Chiropractic Month.
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