Ypsilanti DDA may install security cameras to deter illegal dumping
Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority Director Tim Colbeck said installing security cameras may be one way to stop recurring illegal dumping downtown.
"Over the years, we’ve had our ration of misues," Colbeck said. "People dump couches, construction materials and it costs the DDA a lot of money every year to correct the problem."
Katrease Stafford | AnnArbor.com
The proposal for security cameras came to the table at the recommendation of the Economic Restructuring and Design Committee.
"The committee has been really firm they want cameras installed," Colbeck said.
The DDA has particularly noticed the dumping within its three dumpster enclosures in the North Huron, South Huron and North Adams parking lots. The three enclosures cost the DDA about $20,000 annually.
In addition to couches, Colbeck said tires and even a piano have been dumped.
"We had someone leave a considerable stack of tires," Colbeck said. "It would always be a Monday morning (when we noticed.) Someone's coming over the weekend. More than anything we get furniture and we know it's not coming from people that live downtown. The DDA can't let it sit there, though. We end up having to pay bulk to have the items removed."
Colbeck didn't provide a specific number, but said the costs are fairly high and mount quickly depending on the items.
According to the DDA, at least once a month, the dumpster enclosures become "unsightly due to improper use."
AnnArbor.com previously reported that the Midas at 404 E. Michigan Avenue also has experienced issues with illegal dumping. Although the Midas isn't within the DDA's district's, the problem has been recurring at that business as well.
On May 6, Colbeck sent a letter out to business and property owners within the downtown district urging them to encourage the appropriate use of the dumpsters.
"One of the largest problems we have is trash simply not being put in the dumpsters," Colbeck wrote.
At a April 24 committee meeting, Member Kevin Hill, also the owner of the Wolverine Grill, stated the the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti was considering partnering with the DDA to add security cameras for the dumpster enclosures.
Committee member and Sidetrack Bar and Grill Owner Linda French said that cameras should be installed throughout all of the districts, but Hill said the issue came up directly related to the dumpster enclosures and has grown into a beautification and safety item for the downtown district.
The committee discussed the potential to grow a camera program to the other districts in the future but that it would be prudent to begin with a single area rather than expend funds for security cameras district wide.
The DDA has received cost estimates of the security cameras from different companies, ranging between $3,500 and $8,000.
Committee member Jake Albers stated that cameras for the enclosures should be considered a pilot program to see if they are in fact effective.
"There has been discussion, but not any firming up of details," Colbeck said. "We're treating this is a first pass at something bigger. If indeed we see it could have a bigger impact, it would be considered for expansion."
In addition to deterring illegal dumping, Colbeck believes it may improve security in the area.
The DDA has started to approach possible partners to house the security equipment, including Puffer Reds Owner Eric Williams and the Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureau building owner Doug Winters.
However, the DDA has yet to receive any firm commitments. If a business owner were to agree to have the cameras installed, DDA staff and the Ypsilanti Police Department would have access to the materials if requested.
"We haven’t worked out all the details yet," Colbeck said. "We have our attorney looking at the legality of it."
If a person is caught illegally dumping, the city can impose fines, Colbeck said. The first violation fine is $50, and the first repeat violation is $150. The second subsequent violation is $300.
A person could also face a civil infraction from the state of Michigan if caught dumping, ranging from $800 to $5,000.
"We’re trying to reiterate that there are indeed consequences to this," Colbeck said. "We recognize there needs to be improvements with the system. If we get cameras in, we catch them. It's within the jurisdiction of the building’s department to (fine them.)"
The DDA board is expected to discuss the issue further at its June 20 meeting.