Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor

Renovations to the Mansion Hills parking lot security are underway with new cameras, light fixtures and other possible maintenance in order to make the on-campus living area safer.

The blue light emergency phones that are already in place around the apartment complex will be renovated in order to function as security cameras as well. Longer poles will be attached to the top of them in order to use existing infrastructure to take the blue light emergency phones to transform them into camera towers.

“The placings of the blue lights are perfect for putting cameras there and covering a good portion of the complex,” Student Government Association president Joseph Dordoni said. “They’ll be able to watch almost every inch of the parking lot.”

The cameras allow for security to catch criminals in the act, but also serve as a way to scare away any would-be criminals.

“If things like the vandalism that have gone on happen, we’ll be able to catch that on camera,” Dordoni said. “It also serves as a deterrent, so that we can put up signs that say, ‘the cameras are in use here.’”

In addition to security camera, Mansion Hills parking lots will also be receiving new and brighter lighting. Ameren will be coming to Mansion Hills to replace all of the current light bulbs in the light fixtures with LED lights. They had previously been doing this as the lights individually went out, but now they will instead upgrade all the remaining ones at once.

“Hopefully it will shed more light on any crime that might occur there,” Dordoni said. “It makes people feel safer when there is better light there. It’s not like you’re in some dark, dingy apartment complex where anything could happen. “

According to Dordoni, the updated lighting will also help the security cameras gather brighter footage.

The brush surrounding the fences of Mansion Hills is going to be cleared away in the future as well. Dordoni is not exactly sure when that will happen yet, as they are still getting bids in from different companies on how much it will cost to clear away the brush. They will be updating the landscaping inside the complex as well.

“People feel safer in a nicer looking complex than those that aren’t,” Dordoni said. “Nice-looking places deter criminals and vandals because they seem well guarded.”

There were initially talks to attempt to make the entrance gate at Mansion Hills safer by adding an arm that swings up and down. Students had expressed concerns that the gate closes too slowly and the gate remains open for the majority of the day, allowing anyone in. However, the idea was scrapped due to the price for the single mechanism ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 and the fact it did not completely solve the issue, since it would still be possible for additional cars to slip through as the arm went down.

The reason for the gate being open so often is because the gate is too heavy for the motor at the entrance of Mansion Hills to be opened and closed repeatedly over the course of the day. Because of this the SGA has considered getting a new motor or a lighter gate.

“We’re looking more at getting a new motor so we don’t have to compromise the safety by putting a cheap gate on there,”  Dordoni said.

The lighting in the complex is definitely happening, as SGA and the university already have bids and a contract set up with Ameren set up and should be happening “in the near future.” The bids for security cameras are also done while the final details being sorted out and poles are needed to be set up.