MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The town’s ongoing efforts to install video surveillance cameras in all of its parks took another step forward last week when Recreation Director Jim Gilchrist laid out plans to set up the devices in Camarda Park and the dog park at Sycamore Park.

Last year, the town installed cameras in Chamber Park and McDonough Park.

Gilchrist told the Town Board at its May 9 meeting that cameras have proven to be a useful tool for the police department.

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“We’ve had some small criminal mischief things that the police are investigating,” he said. “But when people see video cameras, they tend to act a whole lot differently.”

The cameras are connected to a DVR, so the police can watch in real time or replay a particular time period.

The cost of the camera and related equipment for Camarda Park is $9,227. The cost of outfitting Sycamore is $11,506. Gilchrist said the cost at Sycamore is slightly higher because it needs  to have new electrical service installed. 

Councilwoman Suzi McDonough asked Gilchrist why surveillance cameras were needed for the dog park.

“For a variety of reasons,” he said. “One is the safety of everyone that is in the dog park. It could be used if there is ever an issue in the park and something unfortunate happens between a dog and someone. And we’ve had a number of issues with vandalism. Carmel PD was using portable cameras called deer cams that are used for hunting. They had them up in trees to catch people who were doing damage to the fence and gate. They were breaking the lock and breaking into the building; leaving debris.”

Gilchrist said once the project is complete, the town will have its four largest parks covered by surveillance cameras.

“We will then move forward with putting them in Airport and Red Mills parks and Geary Rink about a year from now,” he said.