Evanston aldermen approve security cameras, improved lighting near ETHS


Adnaan Zaffer/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston aldermen approved installation of security cameras at four intersections near Evanston Township High School on Saturday. Community members have voiced concerns about installing cameras and improving lighting in the area.

Manuel Rapada, Assistant City Editor

Security cameras and additional lighting will soon surround Evanston Township High School after the Evanston City Council made modifications to next fiscal year’s budget.

In an 8-0 vote at a special council meeting Saturday, aldermen approved installation of security cameras at four intersections along Dodge Avenue: Dempster Street, Lake Street, Church Street and Lyons Street. A quote provided by vendor Current Technologies estimated the project would cost $60,622.13.

Though the cost of security cameras was presented to City Council as a follow-up to an October budget discussion, talk of installing cameras around ETHS began years ago.

Asking the city to consider adding cameras and increasing lighting around the school is “not an original idea,” said ETHS safety director Sam Pettineo.

“(ETHS) is just a member of the community,” Pettineo said after hearing the council’s decision Tuesday. ”And we feel that the camera installation is not only for us but for the neighborhood.”

Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said serious crimes, including murder, have occurred in the area surrounding the high school.

City officials declined to comment specifically on whether the late September shooting death of ETHS freshman Dajae Coleman expedited plans to install security cameras.

“Any time there’s a major crime that occurs in an area and you see the development of cameras after that, I’m sure it does have some type of effect,” Parrott said.

An idea developed at an October anti-violence community meeting suggested “better safety infrastructure,” according to Engage Evanston, a website listing ideas to improve the community. Examples of improved infrastructure included security cameras and brighter lighting.

In a separate 8-0 vote Saturday, Evanston aldermen ordered city staff to develop a plan for funding additional lighting in the ETHS area.

City and high school staff members plan to meet in the coming weeks to develop a Church Street lighting plan, said Suzette Robinson, the city’s public works director, in a memo.

Next year’s capital improvement plan already includes the city’s share of lighting costs, Robinson said in the memo. School officials have also expressed interest in financially backing the project.

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said Saturday that residents around ETHS have been requesting lighting in the area for a long time.

“There’s just not enough poles for the lighting,” Holmes said.

The quote for the security camera project, marked for “budgetary purposes only,” includes the cost of installing four cameras as well as a wireless access point to transmit video to police, according to a city memo from EPD Deputy Chief Jeff Jamraz.

If money is available, funding for the security camera project will come from the current fiscal year’s budget. If not, the cost will be included in the fiscal year 2013 final budget, which is scheduled for adoption Nov. 26.

Pettineo said he is happy the city acted quickly to meet community concerns.

“It is just another example of the city and the high school working together to make sure the community is as safe as it could be,” he said.

Ina Yang and Jia You contributed reporting.