City adds grant money to help downtown Salem businesses with security

A security camera outside Salem Center mall in downtown. The camera was paid for with a grant from the city. (Jake Thomas/Salem Reporter)

The city of Salem’s Urban Renewal Agency has added more money to a grant program that helps businesses pay for security upgrades at their buildings.

On Monday, the agency’s board voted unanimously and without comment to allocate $100,000 for its Strategic Project Grant Program.

According to an agency report, grants from the program can be used by businesses in Salem’s Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area for fences, trash enclosures, exterior lighting and camera systems. The grants are intended to support the city’s goal of “addressing homelessness.” The additional funds for it came from the urban renewal area’s Capital Improvement Grant Program, which has a $4.5 million budget.  

“The response from the businesses have been overwhelmingly positive and we continue to see active interest in this grant program,” Rebecca Ziegler, the city’s downtown revitalization program manager, said in an email.

Since it was created in 2019, a total of $375,000 has been budgeted to the program, and it’s funded a total of 17 projects. With high demand, the program’s remaining funds were whittled down to about $12,000, according to the report.

Now replenished, the maximum grant amount businesses are eligible for from the program has been reduced to $30,000 from $50,000 in order to meet more funding requests.

Dana Vugteveen, general manager of the Salem Center mall, said the shopping center received a grant of around $30,000 to install a camera system around the building to monitor sidewalks and alcoves.

He didn’t recall how many cameras were installed but said they’ve improved security and helped staff capture people breaking windows.

“It has helped us identify people taking up residence in our alcoves or using our alcoves as a restroom facility,” he said.

 Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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