Written by Kelly Kaczala
December 04, 2009
Northwood will likely end its speed van, a mobile vehicle that issues citations to motorists for speeding, early next year. In addition, the city may discontinue the stationary speed and red light photo enforcement cameras installed at two intersections.
“I think it’s safe to say that the van is going to go away,” Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner told The Press last Wednesday.
“The cameras at the intersections could also end,” he added.
Council on July 2 voted 6-1 to stop contract negotiations with Redflex Safety Solutions, of Arizona, to continue providing a van equipped with a camera that targets Northwood streets that have a high incidence of speeding. The contract with the van expires in January.
At the same meeting, council voted 4-3 to continue contract negotiations with Redflex for the stationary speed and red light photo enforcement cameras that have been installed at the intersections of Lemoyne and Woodville roads and Oregon and Wales roads since 2005.
Negotiations have broken down because Redflex wants to charge more for the cameras if the van is discontinued, said Stoner.
At a meeting on Aug. 27, Police Chief Tom Cairl and Councilman Mike Myers made a pitch to revive negotiations for the van with Redflex.
The matter was referred to the safety committee for further discussion.
“They’re trying to work a new contract, and they have not been able to come to any kind of agreement on that,” said Stoner. “When the contract expires, they will be gone,” he said of the van and cameras.
The city’s revenue from the speed van and stationary cameras was $65,189 in 2007, and $48,455 in 2008. The revenue is used for public safety improvements. A continuous right turn on Wales Road and flashing lights at Lark school were among the projects to get funded by the revenue.
Also, one of two officers who were laid off was able to return for one year by getting paid with funds from the van and cameras, said Stoner.
The theory behind the van and cameras is that they deter car accidents by citing motorists who speed and go through red lights, but Stoner said he has doubts that current statistics support that theory.
“I have to really review the statistics. I’ve talked to the chief, and he’s basically saying that it doesn’t matter either way. I’m not so sure after talking to the chief that he thinks this is such a great idea anymore,” he said.
In addition, a group that is contesting the citations may file a lawsuit against Northwood next year, said Stoner.
“They have won in some communities,” said Stoner. “Do we really want to get into this, or should we just let it go?”
There are some on council who never liked the van and cameras. Councilmen Ed Schimmel, chairman of the safety committee, and Randy Kozina are opposed to funds leaving the city and going to Redflex.
“Northwood gets $50 per citation, but Redflex gets that, too. So all that money is going from northwest Ohio to Arizona. That adds up. It’s a lot of money. It’s taking money away from our residents that could potentially be spent here and sending it to Arizona. Is it really a good thing?” said Stoner.
When the contract with the speed van expires, an officer who is assigned to review the citations would be put back on the streets, said Stoner.