PUNTA GORDA — City surveillance cameras won’t be coming to Punta Gorda Isles canals any time soon despite a recent project proposed by City Council Member John Miller to monitor speeding boats.
Miller asked for backing of the pilot project from the other council members during a Sept. 23 meeting.
The goal was to place a camera along Pompano Inlet to monitor boat speeds in the canal outside of the Isles Yacht Club, as well as for surveillance should any theft or other incidents occur.
“It can be a dangerous place with big and small boats coming in and kayaks out and even jet skis that go through here,” Miller said. “This is the third busiest canal behind Ponce Inlet and Buckley’s Pass and many boats are speeding. (That also) affects the sea walls as these waves keep pounding on them as well as boat lifts and other structures.”
Project cost for the first phase was estimated around $2,000 with the goal of adding more cameras to other busy canals.
“This camera would be placed on private property in the easement area down by the seawall (of Pompano Inlet),” Miller said. “It would monitor wakes and be routine surveillance for any other activities.”
Other council members weren’t as keen on the idea, shooting it down after further discussion.
“I don’t support the city spending funds to do this,” said Vice Mayor Lynne Matthews. “This has been brought before three prior City Council organization groups in the past and every one of them denied it for numerous reasons and for liability as the most important of all.
“And I’m just afraid of the whole ‘Big Brother’ thing.”
Mayor Nancy Prafke, who lives in Burnt Store Isles, said her community has dealt with implementing camera systems in the past on neighborhood streets.
“It was funded by the BSI Association,” Prafke said, “and it was a decision made after some events that took place. The community wanted to be able to provide surveillance. The cameras are not monitored. PGPD can access the footage (if needed).”
Matthews did suggest that PGPD spend more time patrolling the canals to prevent people from speeding.
“We have now two marine patrol boats that are fully operational on the water,” Matthews said. “We can make sure that we get them out there monitoring a little bit more aggressively to watch for speeding boats. There’s no doubt there are speeding problems in the canals.”