Watchful Eyes

Yankton’s Meridian Plaza, which was hounded by vandalism last year, is now under surveillance thanks to four cameras that have been installed to monitor the area.

The Meridian Plaza is now being guarded 24/7.

But it’s not by a person. Rather, it’s a series of surveillance cameras that came as a result of a collaboration between Onward Yankton, the Meridian District and the City of Yankton.

Onward Yankton President Chris Hunhoff told the Press & Dakotan that the idea to install the cameras was spurred by a rash of vandalism incidents in the area last year.

“I’m a member of the RiverWalk Committee, and we had some sculptures damaged,” Hunhoff said. “One night at one of our meetings, we started talking about, ‘Maybe RiverWalk should talk to the city and see if we can donate some money and some cameras just to protect our investment in the area.”

He said that security wasn’t just on the minds of RiverWalk or Onward Yankton members.

“One of the things that came back when we did our survey was talking about security in the downtown area,” he said.

According to a Press & Dakotan story from last October, 70% of respondents felt that extra security was necessary in the Meridian District.

Hunhoff said the project cost around $5,000 between the four cameras and setup. The City of Yankton took responsibility for adding signage to the plaza as well as the electrical the set-up.

“It’s been kind of a process with the winter,” he said. “We were hoping to have them all up in the fall, but we didn’t quite make the first freeze, which kind of slowed things down a little bit.”

While three were installed last fall, the final camera was installed last week.

Installation and upkeep of the cameras was provided by Yankton Wireless.

Stephen Seltz, technician and installer with Yankton Wireless, discussed some of the system’s specifications with the Press & Dakotan.

“The camera system at the bridge is always recording and can be accessed via the internet,” Seltz said. “The camera system includes fall detection, night vision and the video feed is live  It is also sent and saved to a secure server for later review.”

He said there are plans to add more cameras in the bridge area.

“Yankton Wireless is committed to connecting our community,” he said. “We are elated to be involved in making it a safer place to live and play.”

Yankton City Manager Amy Leon told the Press & Dakotan that she’s glad the city could help in the endeavor.

“We hope that the cameras can serve both as a deterrent to vandalism and other crimes as well as add an additional safety measure for people who utilize the plaza area,” Leon said.

Hunhoff said that he’s unaware of any specifics, but he has been notified by the Yankton Police Department that footage from the cameras has been used several times for different situations.

He added the project will help make an important piece of Yankton a little bit safer.

“Not only has RiverWalk put in an investment, but the city has put investment in there,” he said. “If you look at the usage, it’s a very important part of Yankton. It’s one of our featured areas in Yankton, so we wanted to make sure that, not only was it protected, but (also) safe and that people feel safe when they’re over there.”

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