BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — There is a lot going on at the Clifton Park Transfer Station: the new single stream recycling system, towering mounds of dark brown mulch in the background coupled with trucks filtering in and out of that area, and garbage disposal bins for everything ranging from mattresses and discarded construction wood to banana peels and coffee grinds.
Now, there is a something that will keep an eye on the place, even after hours: a camera system. Driving through the grounds, one can easily see the white and gray optical instruments dutifully guarding the premises.
Late last year, the town brought the issue to the forefront and set the process in motion.
A few months ago, a plan was drawn up and the project was put out to bid. About a month ago the red lights came on.
“It’s really due to security and safety reasons,” Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said. “A lot of activity takes place at the transfer station and even at times when it’s closed; that coupled with the new solar field that will be constructed on the capped landfill really led us to ensuring that we have video monitoring of the facility 24/7.”
No serious problems had arisen prior to installation of the cameras, but as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, an expensive array of solar panels will be installed soon.
The town won’t pay a penny for the solar panel system or its maintenance, thanks to grants and private financing that is packaged together by a private sector partner, but the photovoltaic modules need to be kept safe.
Triggered by motion
The cameras are triggered by action; when movement occurs, they start recording. “There is one central location where all data comes in, and it’s actually all done through radio waves,” town Director of Communications and Technology Dahn Bull said. “We have radio antennas at each location and the cameras hook up to that radio antenna, which shoots data to the central location that has the receiver.”
The decision to purchase these particular cameras came down to cost. “The transfer station is fairly large; there’s a lot of distance between the structures,” Bull said. “We use the radio-style cameras because of that distance between the locations.” If they were building a new edifice, they would’ve been able to put in some cabling so that the cameras could hard-lined together, but that wasn’t a possibility with the older space they were working with.
“This method was a lot less expensive,” Bull said. “It saved a lot of money.”
It was a two-phase project; the first was $9,195 and the second, which consisted of the addition of another camera, was $3,295. So a total of $12,490 was spent.
The system was set up by a local security company, Center for Security. “They have been a vendor of town in the past,” Barrett said. “So they are a known quantity and have been here for a long time in Clifton Park.”
One doesn’t have to physically be at the transfer station to see the activity on the cameras. “I can log in with a password at Town Hall and see everything that’s happening,” Barrett said. “It’s an effort to increase security and be able to monitor activity, not just for safety reasons but also decrease liability issues for the town.”
At this point, there are no concerns with the new camera system. “The technology is phenomenal,” Barrett said. “As cars enter the facility we can zoom in, get a very clear picture of license plates — a feature we were sure to include in the original proposal — monitor all the recycling, garbage disposal area … so it’s a wide-ranging view of the scope of operations.”