BELFAST, Maine — The new Harbor Walk stretches for more than half a mile along the city’s busy waterfront and boasts a multitude of places for walkers to rest their eyes while strolling along Belfast Harbor.
But Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden would like for a different kind of eye to keep watch over the Harbor Walk — a network of video surveillance cameras, which would help law enforcement officials do their jobs.
On Friday, McFadden said the city already experienced some vandalism along the $1.5 million pathway — a still unapprehended BB gun bandit who shot bulbs out of some of the street lights New Year’s Eve.
“It’s kind of hard for us to be there every minute of every day,” he said. “With video surveillance, we’d always have eyes.”
So far, the city has received bids on surveillance camera installation from two different companies. One offered to set up a system with a fixed amount of cameras for $75,000. The other estimated a cost of $120,000 to set up a wireless system capable of running “far more cameras than we would currently need,” McFadden said.
He said other communities with harbor walks, including Bucksport and Rockland, have their own surveillance video systems.
“We just want people to enjoy themselves down there,” McFadden said. “As with anything, there’s a potential for undesirable activity to happen.”
The police department would not monitor the surveillance system in real time, he said, eschewing the idea of a “Big Brother” watching over residents.
“If we go down there and we see graffiti or broken park benches, we can rewind the video until we see what happened,” he said. “The system needs to be good enough that we can determine who those people were. We don’t need a grainy video showing a cluster of digital blobs. A cheap video surveillance system isn’t going to do us any good.”
It will now be up to the Belfast City Council to decide whether to spend the money for the project, McFadden said.