Downtown Granite City will have eight new eyes if the mayor gets the eight cameras he wants for the town's high-crime neighborhood.
Mayor Ed Hagnauer said he thinks downtown needs the cameras to discourage vandals, drug dealers, burglars and squatting in vacant buildings by the homeless.
"We want to be able to say 'Guess what? You're famous. You're in the movies,'" Hagnauer said.
Beside filming the area, the cameras also would relay pictures to a monitor in the police station,
Hagnauer said some owners of run-down and vacant buildings in the area have told him they would be more inclined to invest in rehabilitating them if the city could keep criminals and squatters from damaging their property again.
"We have to show them we're serious down there," Hagnauer said.
The mayor and City Council made it clear last year that cleaning up the city and repairing streets are their priorities for at least the next two years.
Hagnauer said he will not know the cost of security cameras and installation until the city gets bids from contractors in the next couple of months. He said he hopes cameras can be in place by this summer.
The Tri-Cities Port District in west Granite City already is installing eight security cameras and communication equipment at an estimated cost of $250,000.
The city's eight cameras probably will cost less because the Port District's cameras are spread out over a 1,200 acre perimeter, said Dennis Wilmsmeyer, district general manager.
Port District expenses do not come out of the city budget. Wilmsmeyer said the district plans to add more cameras in the future.
Madison has security cameras scattered around its public housing apartments and a few others in locations police declined Thursday to reveal.
Cameras on streets are more common in larger cities, Hagnauer said.
The city's preliminary plan for downtown is to install eight motion-activated cameras from Niedringhaus Avenue to State Street. The cameras would catch activity in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Delmar and Edison avenues, where crime is a problem.
A 60-year-old woman, Carol Newby, was beaten and suffocated to death in her apartment last week in the 2400 block of Delmar.
Last winter, two drunk homeless men fought and one was stabbed to death after they broke into a vacant second-floor apartment on Edison Avenue to spend the night.
The downtown cameras also would catch activity around the Madison County Transit bus station. The city often receives complaints about vandalism, drug use and loitering men urinating around the bus station at 19th Street and Edison Avenue, Hagnauer said.
"It wouldn't catch the bus depot itself, but it would catch everything around the bus station," he said.