Council OKs new cameras at gazebo

FRONT ROYAL – The town plans to boost surveillance around the gazebo near Main Street.

Town Council voted 4-1 to authorize the purchase of four, 6-megapixel, high-definition cameras and a recording system at a cost of $6,500. The town will use asset forfeiture funds – money seized from defendants in federal investigations and awarded to the police department for its collaborative work with law enforcement agencies – to pay for the equipment.

The motion also call for council to accept a donation of two Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 7731 Point to Point access points valued at $2,398. The town would use the devices as part of the installation of video cameras in the gazebo.

Councilman John Connolly made the motion to approve both requests. Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger said she still feels very strongly that council is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and that it gives the public the opportunity to view the video footage. Egger voted against the motion. Vice Mayor Hollis Tharpe and Councilmen Eugene Tewalt, Jacob Meza and Connolly voted in favor of the motion.

Councilman Bret Hrbek did not attend the meeting. But, in an email message sent last week, he stated he opposed using the cameras and allocating any funds to buy new devices.

The town removed the cameras from the gazebo late last year. Then some residents and property owners asked council to put the devices back in the gazebo for safety purposes and tools to help solve crimes that occur in the area.

Also at the meeting:
• Accepted a $350 donation from Bike Virginia and authorized equal distribution of the money to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Venture Crew.
• Approved a fiscal 2017 budget amendment to reduce the Community Development contract in contingency to $6,000; increase the Planning Department professional services line item by $5,000; and increase the Town Council professional services line item by $9,000.
• Adopted a resolution of support and participation for the New Market Tax Credit Program to work with the Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority and People Inc. to provide capital funding for various capital projects

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or