Controversial Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush intends to install upwards of 100 security cameras on various properties along the neighborhood's commercial corridor. It's a safety precaution, Feibush said — but some neighbors, already critical of Feibush, are likely to see it as an intrusion.
"[The] focus to start was [the] 1200 and 1300 blocks of Point Breeze [Avenue], " said Feibush, adding that roughly 50 cameras would be going up immediately, with the possibility of an additional 50 later on. "We put up a dozen more cameras at three locations just today."
The new cameras would be mounted mostly on properties owned by Feibush's company, OCF Realty, although six seperate businesses had signed on to receive free cameras from the developer. Feibush said the cameras would be tied to "a central system" with stored in "an undisclosed location," but said he planned to give access to the system to neighbors and business owners.
"My hope is to create a network of surveillance watchers which can call in serious concerns on a moments notice," said Feibush. "Giving cameras to residents and business owners who care about safety is like giving shovels and trash bags to residents and business owners who care about cleaning and greening."
When asked who determines who gets access to the system, Feibush said, "I do."
This move comes on the heels of other attempts by Feibush to assert an unusual, self-styled neighborhood development philosophy, which has drawn protests from neighborhood groups that have generally opposed the fast-paced development of the neighborhood. Earlier in the year, Feibush announced he was creating a privately run community center and economic development organization that would handle duties typically delegated to government-affiliated nonprofits, like installing trash cans and doling out facade improvement grants to businesses. A vocal, new anti-Feibush group calling itself the Point Breeze Organizing Committee said those efforts were an attempt to exert control over the neighborhood for business and political purposes.
Likewise, Feibush's plan to play Big Brother in the Breeze may not go over so well.
"Video surveillance and public safety are significant issues. It would seem important to have both public debate and public review. Mr. Feibush's path offers neither; he again uses his disproportionate means to sidestep substantive community input. It demonstrates Mr. Feibush is seeking to protect, not the community, but his own interests," said PBOC member Dina Yarmus in an email.
So far, the larger neighborhood, and even some of Feibush's opponents, have been fairly receptive to the developer's earlier plans to spruce up commercial corridors and clean lots. But even OCF supporters may be leery of the developer setting up a private surveillance network.
Feibush, asked about potential criticism, pointed to a murder in Graduate Hospital that was solved with footage from a camera mounted on a real estate office he owns.
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