Schenectady County

Schenectady’s Summit Towers improving security

Summit Towers resident Carolyn Townsend said it got to the point where she was afraid to leave her b
Summit Towers in Schenectady is seen in this file photo from March 16, 2015.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Summit Towers in Schenectady is seen in this file photo from March 16, 2015.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Summit Towers resident Carolyn Townsend said it got to the point where she was afraid to leave her building.

Her concerns centered around fighting, residents being accosted and even being robbed at the 185-unit building on the edge of Hamilton Hill.

But after a residents’ meeting Thursday, the second in two days, she’s optimistic that new safety measures unveiled will have a positive impact.

“I believe that it’s going to be safer,” Townsend, 64, said. “I like it because I don’t want to come out of my house now.”

Townsend said she was part of a recent petition that went around the building to increase security there.

Building officials this week responded by telling residents of new measures that will restrict access to the building from outsiders, making it harder for them to get in and move around.

The building is privately owned, HUD-subsidized Section 8 housing for those over the age of 62 and people with disabilities.

Many of the problems are believed caused by non-residents who gain access to the building, along with its stairwells and elevators.

The new measures are intended to address each of those issues, Executive Director Barbara McBride told residents Thursday.

Stairwells will be locked, only becoming unlocked for fire alarms. Outsiders would often get into the stairwells and relieve themselves or leave behind drug paraphernalia.

Elevators will be operated only by a resident’s key fob, meaning residents will have to go to the lobby to bring up visitors.

One resident appeared to express concern about deliveries and being unable to come down. McBride said later that building supervisors are working on a system to allow legitimate deliveries.

They’re also closing off a door at a walled-in courtyard to prevent non-residents from coming in that way. Residents will have to use the main entrance when exiting and entering.

The Police Department will also connect new security cameras, McBride said.

“Security of the building depends on both management and tenants,” McBride told the tenants. “We need your cooperation in keeping the building safe.”

Officials also urged residents to call police when problems occur.

She said later they will see how well the new measures work, but she believes they will have the intended effect.“I think it’s going to cut things down dramatically,” McBride said.

Most of the approximately 30 residents at Thursday’s meeting appeared encouraged.

Resident Ray Vaz, 61, praised the restricted access to the elevators.

“It’s very good security,” Vaz said. “Those people won’t come here no more.”

Fran Clark, a resident for nine years, said she’ll miss being able to use the stairs for her exercise. She also said it will be harder to have to go down to let in guests.

But she’s also seen the problems and believes the moves are needed.

“I think it’s a necessity,” Clark said. “It’s an unfortunate necessity. I really wish we were addressing the neighborhood more so than the building, but we have to start in our own home, so that’s where we start.”

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

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