STEUBENVILLE - Six years after city voters rejected traffic cameras by a 3-1 margin, City Council members will hold a townhall meeting to discuss installing traffic cameras in school zones and neighborhoods where residents cite speeding issues.
"I think we should look at the cameras for school zones so we can free up police officers for other work. This is one possible solution to the police department manpower issue," announced 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich Tuesday night during a safety committee meeting.
No date was set for the townhall meeting, but Mayor Domenick Mucci said it should be held at Eastern Gateway Community College.
"This is about safety and saving lives. We don't have enough officers to dedicate them to the school zones. If we put an officer in a school zone he can be pulled out if another call comes in. And I have phone calls on a regular basis from people talking about speeding cars in their neighborhoods," said Police Chief Bill McCafferty.
But according to 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf, "the citizens overwhelmingly said no to cameras before. I agree with keeping school zones safe. But I hate to see us adopt this and just say they are back. Our citizens have a right to vote on this. I want citizens to be very aware of this and see what our citizens think about this."
"I see the big issues as drugs and the shootings. During the last three weeks the police have arrested the man accused of shooting an AK-47 in a hilltop neighborhood. They have made several drug busts. Our officers are doing a good job. I am not sure this is the correct way to do this," Metcalf continued.
"I have no problem putting the cameras back as long as we do it correctly. I get five to seven calls a week from people with concerns about drivers speeding through neighborhoods," said 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins.
And Councilman at large Kenny Davis said, "the times are different than six years ago." We have more issues and fewer police officers. Nobody likes changes, but this is to better protect our town."
"Our citizens want their neighborhoods protected. This is one answer," remarked 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul.
Lalich said no legislation on traffic cameras will be introduced until after the townhall meeting.
City Law Director S. Gary Repella said he has been contacted by two residents, "who said they are prepared to sue the city if the cameras are installed again."
During the council sunshine meeting, Repella announced the city has reached a $75,000 legal settlement with firefighter Paul Bowman.
Bowman had sued the city claiming his rights were violated after he was discharged twice in 2010.
Repella said the city will be responsible for $12,500 of the settlement and the city's insurance carrier will pay $62,500.
Perkins introduced two ordinances Tuesday night to amend the zoning code and enacting a new chapter of the Business Regulations Code that will limit Internet sweepstakes cafes and arcades.
"We have one cafe in the city that will be grandfathered under this legislation. But we don't want to see a proliferation of cafes like Weirton has. Our urban projects office has already received telephone calls about future businesses here," said Perkins.
The planning and zoning commission has set a public hearing on the issue for 7 p.m. on Oct. 1.
A resolution honoring Steubenville High School graduate and University of Pittsburgh sophomore Josh Thompson for his participation in the International Amateur Athletic Federation World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, was introduced.
And Lalich proposed an ordinance authorizing the city manager to advertise for bids for the super pulsator covers and installation of the covers.
City Manager Cathy Davison announced she will present council members on Aug. 21 with a plan for future financial issues in the city's water and sewer departments.
"Part of the plan will include a very aggressive approach to collecting delinquent water bills, as well as preparing the water and sewer departments for the future. We want flexibility with our plan. I have also asked the utility collection office to list all Section 8 and Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority-owned properties with delinquent water bills so we can notify JMHA officials," explained Davison.
"Part of our plan is consideration of a new water meter system that will allow us to turn the water off from the utility collections office.
"I don't want to be meeting here next year on this issue. We need to be proactive instead of reactive," Perkins said.