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Nisswa still considering downtown surveillance cameras

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The city of Nisswa continues to look into installing surveillance cameras downtown, and the city council talked about hosting a public meeting to gather public input on the idea.

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Council member Joe Meyer said Wednesday, March 19, that he has two quotes for cameras and is awaiting one more.

Meyer, council member Tina Foster, Police Chief Craig Taylor and downtown business owners met recently to discuss the idea of cameras.

“As it sits now, the vast majority of opinions I’ve heard are in support of this,” Meyer said at the council meeting.

Taylor said the proposal is to place cameras to view public areas and not to protect specific businesses, but all businesses. Spots for surveillance cameras include the chamber/public restroom building and the pedestrian tunnel, as well as possible other spots downtown.

Meyer said cameras are not in the current budget, but city funds are available to reallocate to the project. In addition, donations may be pledged to the project.

“There will be funds to go forward with the project,” Meyer said.

Regarding a meeting to broach the idea further with residents, Foster said, “We need a public meeting on this. This is not something to spring on citizens — hey, we have cameras all over town now. The question is, where does it end? We have to protect our assets as a city. Businesses are ultimately an asset, but they’re to watch their own doors.”

Taylor added: “I understand if there are concerns with people feeling they are being watched by government. My view is that we should have the responsibility as a police department to have tools to collect evidence and identify suspects.”

Public safety

Fire Chief Richard Geike said the department has moved fire trucks to Lake Edward Town Hall and is testing for an ISO rating to ensure the township gets the same rating as Nisswa, which is 8.

Firefighters had 10 medical calls, one mutual aid call each to Crosslake and to Brainerd, and one car accident in February.

Police had 112 calls for service in February. Activity included 14 agency assists, two criminal citations, 16 traffic citations, 51 traffic warnings, one arrest, five medicals and nine alarms.

In other business March 19, the council:

• Addressed rules of decorum during council meetings. Mayor Brian Lehman said traditionally the city of Nisswa has followed Robert’s Rules of Order (a guide to running meetings), but loosely. He also consulted the Minnesota Mayor’s Handbook.

The city will post a summary of its rules of decorum. Resident Fred Heidmann asked if the public will be able to speak during specific agenda items. Lehman said that has traditionally been allowed.

• Learned the Planning Commission recommended leaving the interim use permit fee schedule as is for now, and suggested the city add a special events permit fee for the chamber and other groups that host special events, so the city can recoup some costs for police and public works time spent on those events.

• Learned the city received a brewery/taproom application for the former Mickey’s building.

• Learned the city will need to budget more money for recycling costs in 2015.

• Set a special, closed meeting for Monday, March 24, at city hall to discuss labor negotiation strategy in regard to the recently formed union of supervisory employees. The meeting will be recorded.

• Agreed to have Nisswa City Hall become a site where residents can properly drop off old or expired prescription medications. A box will be located at city hall. Such boxes are also located at the Breezy Point and Crosby police departments, Lake Shore City Hall and Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department.

• Accepted a Region Five Development Commission proposal for $9,744 to help update the city’s comprehensive plan over two years.

• Appointed Richard Roberts to the Planning Commission.

Nancy Vogt can be reached at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her at facebook.com/PEJNancy and on Twitter @PEJ_Nancy.

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