Council waives fees for ‘Lynx,’ talks video cameras for Harbor Walk

Rockport-built clipper ship coming to Belfast

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 5:30pm

    BELFAST - Privateer Lynx, a replica of an 1812 Baltimore Clipper ship, will be spending most of the month of July in Belfast. The City Council rolled out the welcome mat on Tuesday, agreeing to waive dock fees for the nonprofit Lynx Educational Foundation during the ship’s three-week stay.

    Captain Andrew Peterson made the request on behalf of ship, which was built at Rockport Marine, and first launched in 2001. The Lynx would occupy a city dock at the public landing from July 7 to 31. Peterson said the crew would offer tours costing $10 and would operate daysails costing $65 per person for up to 40 people.

    Among councilors there was some discussion of charging some amount. Peterson said the ship is dependent upon grants in addition to retail proceeds. The Council ultimately waived the dock fees and took Peterson up on his offer to arrange an event benefitting a local organization as a way to give something back to the city.

    Video surveillance, yes. But at what cost?

    Councilors debated the details of security cameras that would be installed along the new waterfront Harbor Walk, including the ethical implications of video surveillance and the cost of the system itself.

    The question of whether to have cameras or not turned out be mostly academic. Conduit for wiring cameras was installed as part of the initial construction of the Harbor Walk.

    “In 2011, I don’t think it’s realistic to walk around the street and think that you’re not being videotaped,” said Councilor Roger Lee.

    Councilor Mike Hurley listed a number of popular stores in the city noting that all of them have surveillance cameras.

    “Invariably no one looks at that stuff unless something happens,” he said.

    Hurley, however, took issue with the cost based on two preliminary quotes — for $79,000 and $120,000 — solicited by Police Chief Mike McFadden.

    Hurley brought a four-camera array to the Council meeting that he said cost $139 and included night vision and resolution sufficient to read a license plate number. Similar cameras were typical in many businesses, he said.

    “If we’d have spent $2,000 to have those installed, we would have saved thousands,” he said, calling the $75,000 quote “far, far in excess of anything we’d need.”

    McFadden later said the two quotes dated to early in the Harbor Walk project. The companies were picked more or less at random, he said, and based on an estimate of more cameras than he now believed would be needed. McFadden said he was confident he could get them for less if he shopped around.

    Still, he dismissed Hurley’s claim that an adequate system could cost a fraction of the amounts he was quoted.

    Unlike a closed circuit system in a small business, he said, the Harbor Walk cameras would need to withstand the elements, including cold winters. There would also need to be a way to ensure that the cameras were working without constantly visiting each one, and a way to easily review footage, he said.

    Of the two quotes, McFadden said the cheaper system could not be upgraded and would need to be hardwired. The more expensive one incorporated wireless cameras that could be moved and hardware that could be upgraded. These factors, McFadden said, made for a better investment.

    “If we spend a certain amount of money, the public doesn’t want to hear that the system [doesn’t work],” he said.

    In other business, the Council:

    • Approved a request from Public Works Director Bob Richards to transfer $10,200 from a culvert capital reserve account to replace two culverts at Achorn Road.

    • Approved a request from Fire Chief Jim Richards to sign on to the Waldo County Incident Management support agreement.

    • Approved a request from Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge to contract with the Maine Office of Community Development to serve as a “pass through entity” for the Maine Downtown Center.

    • Approved spending up to $18,000 to replace utilities and $5,000 to dispose of old floats at Thompson’s Wharf at the request of Harbor Master Katherine Pickering. Councilors also approved funding for an updated inspection of the Armistice Bridge (footbridge) and bascule.

    • Approved a first reading of a zoning ordinance amendment for the Searsport Avenue Commercial Zoning District — located on the inland side of Route 1 — that would allow boatbuilding related businesses. Assistant City Planner Sadie Lloyd said there had been “interest from a small boatbuilding operation” and the planning office found that use to be consistent with others allowed currently. City Manager Joe Slocum added that the business in question was “from another community.”

    • Resolved to accept the terms and requirements of the federal government’s approval of rail banking on a portion of the city-owned railroad corridor to be converted to a recreational trail. City Manager Slocum said he hoped that selling the rails would offset the cost of removing them.

    • Appointed citizens to fill vacancies on several city committees, with the exception of the Harbor Committee, for which there were four applicants and one vacant seat. The Council plans to interview applicants before its next regular meeting on June 17.

    • Held an executive session to discuss a legal matter, but took no action.

    Ethan Andrews can be reached at