Greenwich Going With Traffic Cameras

By Craig Shoup
Times-Junction Staff Writer

Members of the council for the Village of Greenwich voted to approve an ordinance to authorize an automated speed program provided by Optotraffic. The program utilizes lasers placed next to roadways that send signals to a camera to take a picture when it detects a vehicle driving faster than the posted speed limit.

Council members entered into executive session to discuss the program before passing the legislation. Account manager Dorian Grubaugh of Optotraffic was included in the executive session.

Grubaugh said Optotraffic is far more accurate than a police radar gun. He said the lasers are calibrated based on time it takes to drive a certain distance. In the case of a speeding car, a sensor will force the camera to take a picture of the back license plate.

Don Glowinski addressed council during the April 16 meeting to voice his displeasure for the automated speed enforcement.

"I think the cameras in this town are a bad idea. I think it is too much Big Brother. There should be other ways to handle things. Maybe get a couple of auxiliary cops in," he said. "Why don't they do a gun raffle for the police to get the money that they need?"

"The issue is my payroll budget was cut $32,000 this year," responded police chief Steve Dorsey. "Your suggestion is to add more officers?"

Council member Lynne Phillips said under the Ohio Revised Code, a municipality cannot participate in fundraisers to create money in the general fund. She said a municipality can generate money into its general fund through tax levies, income tax and tickets written by officers.

"The state has cut our budge by $130,000," noted Phillips. "We have to find a way to create a revenue stream for our general fund," she said. "I want our police officers taking care of crime. I don't want them neglecting their investigations to write speeding tickets.

"In a perfect world, we would have 10 police officers, and we would have somebody writing tickets all the time," she added. "We can't afford that."

Grubaugh said the program generates revenue, but it is not considered a revenue generator. He said early in the process, speeders will be caught.

In most cases, the vehicle driving over the limit in Greenwich are cars commuting through the village. He said residents know the speed limit and are always aware and are rarely caught.

The tickets will result in a $100 fine that does not count as points against a persons license. Grubaugh said the village splits the profit of the ticket. The village will be given 60-percent of the profit and Optotraffic is given 40-percent. The only expenses for the village are court costs.

"As soon as everyone stops going over 10 mph, we will not make a penny," said Grubaugh.

Grubaugh said the village will undergo speed studies and the program will be begin in six to eight weeks.

Council gave second reading to begin taking income tax from residents who work outside the village limits. After a 3-3 tie, mayor Lowell Etzler cast the final vote of yes to pass the second reading.

After the second reading, Etzler asked council members if they would table the legislation to see if enough revenue is generated from the agreement with Optotraffic.

A resolution was passed authorizing Etzler to be the Huron Country Emergency Management Agency contact for Greenwich. The HCEMA provides assistance in the event of catastrophe in the village.

An ordinance was passed updating the codified ordinances for the village. Ordinances passed in 2013 were added to the codes. All ordinances can be accessed from the website under the tab called ordinances.

Dorsey said a new officer, still in the process of being trained, responded to a fight at a local bar.

"There was an incident at the bar with an elected official," Dorsey said. "During a fight call, the officer was doing the best he can to sort things out. In the meantime the elected official says, 'I'm going to watch you to see if you do a good job. I'm a councilman and I sign your paycheck.' The chief of police throws you under the bus'," noted Dorsey. "This is as an incident happening in the bar.

"I do not like elected officials to belittle their police department,'' said Dorsey. "This officer was new, inexperienced and now I have to deal with that. If you have a problem with any of my officers or with me, you come to me and I will take care of the problem. Other than that, they are doing the best they can."

In other council matters, softball tournaments at the park will be lead by council member Travis Wilson. He said the park provides a nice facility for softball tournaments, and he said he will oversee the games for free. During the April 1 meeting, Phillips suggested the village hire someone part-time to operate tournaments at the park.

One thing standing in the way of the tournaments is pricing. Renting the fields is not the primary concern, noted Wilson. He said the ordinance, passed last year, stating any paid event at the park must pay police protection at the rate of $20 per hour, is the concern of teams coming to Greenwich.

The ordinance was voted on and passed last year because the village has had issues with alcohol at the park, specifically during softball tournaments. Wilson suggested the village could have the police patrol the games like a normal cop would do instead of having officers stationed at the games site.

"I called New London, Ashland, Norwalk and surrounding towns. You pay your fee and you play ball," added Wilson. "They all said it is in the corporation limits. and it is the job of the police department to patrol the area. There is no cop involvement at all."

A strong advocate of passing the legislation last year, council member Steve Bovia said if the ordinance needed to be repealed he would be in favor. He said hosting the games and having players and their families invest back into the economy is worth removing the financial requirement of police protection.

Bovia said drinking has to be stopped, no matter if there is an ordinance or not. Drinking is prohibited at the park and signs are placed in the park to warn patrons.

Council member Mike Lloyd said the village needs to be strict about drinking so people holding tournaments will know it is not tolerated and lawbreakers will be arrested.

The next council meeting will be held May 6 at 7 p.m.

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