Springfield considers downtown cameras
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | August 17,2013
SPRINGFIELD — Faced with recent downtown vandalism, Springfield is looking into installing security cameras in key locations on Main Street.
Two weeks ago, someone went on a vandalism spree; the targets were flower boxes planted along Main Street by businesses and organizations.
The mess and much of the damage was quickly cleaned up by the town’s Department of Public Works, and the Springfield Garden Club came in with new plants to mask the damage.
But Town Manager Robert Forguites said Friday the most recent vandalism is only the latest incident to get the town thinking about security cameras.
When the police department was located in the town hall until a few years ago, there were cameras outside the town hall and the town parking lot.
The cameras are still there, Forguites said. “But don’t ask me if they are hooked up.”
He told the Select Board earlier this week he had asked Police Chief Douglas Johnston to investigate buying, installing and running cameras in the downtown area.
It had been a discussion a few years ago when people would loiter in the downtown area at night, Forguites said.
“There were people gathering in front of the Woolson Block and Penelope’s, and we discussed it then and it never went anywhere,” he said.
Likewise, neighboring Bellows Falls considered installing security cameras in the downtown area, but dropped the idea in the face of opposition.
But after the vandalism to Springfield’s downtown beautification effort, Forguites said, people were amazed that police couldn’t catch the vandal via security cameras along Main Street.
The police chief said there were no cameras in the part of downtown that was struck. Johnston couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Forguites said the town did not want monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but rather videotape that could be viewed in the event of a problem.
“The question is how it would be set up and the costs,” he said.
If it’s feasible, the town would also pursue grants to cover those costs.
As for the vandalism itself, Sandy MacGillivray, a member of the Springfield Garden Club and chairwoman of the civic beautification committee, said the generosity of John and Maureen McAveeney at Sunshine Acres allowed club members to replant the window boxes and planters.
“The efforts of Public Works Department employees and two special citizens in promptly cleaning up the damaged areas while trying to save plantings are very much appreciated,” MacGillivray said.
“The club was encouraged by the community’s support through blogs and comments from people indicating that townspeople were also upset at the thoughtless vandalism and showing appreciation for Springfield Garden Club’s civic beautification projects,” she said.
The club has received contributions from a number of concerned residents.