GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The City of Grand Haven is installing cameras along its infamous South Pier with the hope that it stops vandalism on the lighthouses.
“We spent a lot of time, effort, and local philanthropic money to make those look really great,” said city manager Pat McGinnis. “We take that kind of investment very seriously and to have somebody go and deface that… it hits close to home.”
According to McGinnis, toward the end of last summer, graffiti became an issue. He says people tagged the inner and outer lights an estimated six times. No one has been charged.
McGinnis said following the incidents, a group of upset community members asked how to help.
“I talked to public safety and they said, ‘Well if we had good surveillance out there we could probably put an end to it',” McGinnis said.
Following the suggestion, the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation set up a fund and raised roughly $21,000 to buy five cameras.
The Grand Haven City Council approved the project in May. The wiring for the cameras was laid out this past week, with the cameras expected to be installed in the near future.
“I doubt we will have much more in the terms of graffiti once those cameras are activated,” McGinnis said. “Word will get out because the first person that tags them, we’ll arrest them that night and graffiti will be gone the next day.”
McGinnis says the camera will alert police with direct links to what’s going on, but there will not be active monitoring.
“They can open up the app on their phone and look at the video and know if somebody is out there and know if there’s just somebody sitting, watching water or if somebody is up to no good,” McGinnis said.
Eventually, the cameras will be used to help with water rescues and more cameras will be added to other nearby landmarks, like Sluka Field.
“We’re going to keep this fund going,” McGinnis said. “That’s a very simple and not too expensive way to secure those assets.”