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Eyes on the skate park

The Parks and Recreation Commission’s approval of two security cameras to be installed at the Ashland Skate Park offers the prospect of making the popular gathering spot safer for youths and giving parents some peace of mind while allowing police to monitor behavior, if the cameras are used to their full potential.

On Monday, the commission unanimously approved installing the cameras and making the 24-hour feed available to the public online. The Ashland Police Department will cover the cost of the equipment, which Chief Tighe O’Meara said would be about $4,000 for two cameras.

Unlike the camera already operating at the Plaza, which streams live on YouTube but does not record, these cameras would record activity and store the recordings on a server, where police could use it when necessary.

O’Meara said the cameras could serve as pilot project that could be expanded to other places in the city.

The project was prompted by citizen concerns about transients loitering at the skate park, which is adjacent to the Recycling Center and the free box situated there. Police have responded to complaints of public intoxication and other behavior issues.

Police should do everything possible to make the cameras safe from vandalism by mounting them on poles. Keeping the recordings on file is a good idea as well, but the department should have someone keep an eye on the feed so problems can be dealt with quickly — the most effective way to change behavior and make the park safe for its intended use.