Council considers placing traffic cameras in the city


By David Skolnick


Traffic cameras to catch speeders and those who drive through red lights and stop signs could be in place by the fall.

The original idea was to have the cameras only at school zones, but city officials said Monday they also plan to put them at areas with traffic-control issues.

That doesn’t please Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, chairwoman of council’s safety committee.

“All I want is to see them in school zones,” she said at Monday’s safety- committee meeting. “I’m going to be out there fighting it. Some council members want red-light cameras. To me, they’re a detriment to the city.

But other members of council don’t object to placing the camera at locations with a lot of motorists speeding or driving through red lights and stop signs.

“I’m not opposed to [the cameras] being in other places,” said Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, and a safety-committee member.

Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd, said: “I’m not advocating for [cameras in places other than school zones], but I’m open to it. I don’t want to plaster the city with them. The idea was to make school zones safe. We’ll still do that. [But] I wouldn’t oppose [having them in] troubled spots.”

Councilman Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd, wants cameras monitoring speed in school zones and cameras watching busy intersections to determine the causes of traffic accidents.

Mayor Jay Williams said he doesn’t see a problem having the cameras in other locations besides school zones.

“It’s not to create speed traps,” he said. “Certain areas have problems. I don’t anticipate the city being flooded with traffic cameras. Many will be in school zones.”

CT Consultants, which has a Youngstown office, will conduct a traffic study with input from council members that will include recommended places for the cameras, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department. The report should be done by mid-June, he said.

The city wants to hire Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix to operate the traffic cameras.

City officials have talked about traffic cameras since late 2009.

Also at Tuesday’s safety- committee meeting, members discussed the City Watch System that contacts residents by telephone through an automated system about block-watch and community meetings.

The system has experienced problems, including repeatedly calling people and calling the wrong people — including those who don’t live in the city.

The city purchased the system in 1997 and upgraded it in 2005 at a cost of about $39,000, Swierz said.

The new upgrade, which should be done in a few weeks, cost $11,600.

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