Some downtown residents were so convinced they needed additional security around their homes they offered to pay the city for surveillance cameras.
The city, however, was less than eager to accept their money.
City spokesman Bret Bell said officials appreciated the residents’ initiative but were concerned about the message they would send by accepting the donation.
The city does not want to create the perception that residents are only as safe as they can afford to be, Bell said. Instead, the city decided to use funds paid by organizers of a fashion show at Monterey Square in 2012.
The $15,000 impact fee almost equaled the cost of installing the two cameras and wireless routers needed to operate them at the square, Bell said. Prior to the decision, police had identified a need for the cameras along the highly travelled corridor, he said.
Both cameras are expected to go online by the end of the week.
Reed Dulany said the installation comes after he and other area residents agreed to cover the $15,000 cost of the cameras, by donating about $600 per household, due to concerns about crime in the area.
Dulaney said he did not think Monterey Square was more dangerous than other squares, but the cameras are worthwhile in helping apprehend offenders and, more importantly, preventing crimes before they occur.
He said he would like to see the city do a better job of promoting partnerships with the public to help fund projects that could make Savannah a better place to live. “I think there is enough good will in the city,” he said.
The city has partnered with organizations to fund projects in the past and has a program in which the city matches organizations up to $10,000 for landscaping and monument improvements, Bell said.
All potential contributions are reviewed on a case by case basis, he said.
In 2012, the Downtown Garden Club donated $10,500 to the city to cover the cost of a new wrought iron fence placed around the Nathanael Greene Monument in Johnson Square. That same year, Dulany’s family also made a donation for 50 palmetto trees along Victory Drive.
While the Monterey Square cameras are able to feed off wireless service stemming from the Forsyth Park cafe and visitors center, most of the downtown squares do not have the network infrastructure necessary to have them installed, Bell said.
There was a plan to fund cameras for all the squares, but the City Council wanted to expand their thinking citywide rather than just focusing on the Historic District, Bell said.
Currently, 167 surveillance cameras are spread throughout the city.
The sales tax referendum voters approved in November included $1 million that will go toward expanding wireless connectivity, but fiber-optic cable costs about $80,000 per mile, Bell said.
“We recognize that $1 million isn’t going to get us very far,” he said.