WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa –They’re the best-known residents of Windsor Heights: the speed cameras . Now, there’s a growing movement within the city to turn the cameras off.
“Coming down the hill you’re supposed to ride your brakes the whole time to maintain the 25-mph. speed limit and you still get a ticket anyways, it’s kind of impossible” said resident Mary Gillette.
Gillette works at the Bake Shoppe in Windsor Heights says the cameras, which trigger at 36 mph on University Avenue are driving away business.
“They find other ways to get around the speed cameras but in the process of doing that they’re avoiding all the businesses along here” she said.
City Councilman Zachary Bales-Henry says he’s heard it from the Chamber of Commerce as well and says its time the council considers removing the cameras.
“The business community has spoken, and I’ve always been a huge advocate for the business community. If they’re saying it impacts them, I’m going to take their word for it. They’re there for a reason and a driving force in our community is that business district” said Bales-Henry.
Other city officials say the cameras work to slow down traffic and make the road safer.
“I support the use of ATEs as a tool in reducing the speed of traffic in our community while improving the safety of our residents. The cameras have allowed us to slow down traffic on the highway that runs down our Mainstreet” said Councilwoman Threase Harms.
Statistics show that the number of violations has dropped by 47 percent since they installed the cameras in 2017, and that the rate of drivers getting multiple tickets dropped from 13.6 percent to 8.7 percent. Bales-Henry says the council is considering a re-design plan for University that he says will help eliminate some of the safety concerns without the cameras. Harms says she’s willing to have the conversation about removing the cameras at that time.
“It would take the four to five lanes that we have now and would transition it to a three-lane similar to what Ingersoll has done, similar to what happened here in the East Village. It just encourages you to naturally slow down.
Gillette says her solution is much simpler.
“I’d like to see the cameras removed and I’d like to see maybe a higher speed limit. Safety is obviously really important and if people would just follow the speed limit, I don’t think they would have put up the cameras in the first place” she said.
The cameras are estimated to bring in about 1.47 million dollars of revenue in fiscal year 2018-2019. A million dollars of that is earmarked for street repairs, and a little over $300,000 is used to help purchase equipment.