The Bluffton Police Department hopes to install surveillance cameras throughout Old Town in time for the start of festival season in October.
Police also hope the throngs of visitors notice.
Although the 21 cameras will be used to better monitor large events, Maj. Joseph Manning said they should also deter crime and aid in investigations. Manning said he doesn't think the cameras will be an eyesore, but they won't -- and shouldn't -- be missed.
By and large, residents and business owners have agreed.
"It's sad we have to have these, but I guess it's a necessity," said Maria Slough, owner of Fishbone Gallery on Calhoun Street. "It's not a spying tool; it's a safety tool."
Slough added that the cameras would not mar the landscape of Old Town any more than electrical poles and street signs. Like wearing a seat belt, she said, the benefits outweigh the inconvenience.
"We were wondering if we were going to get a 'Big Brother' reaction, but people have been really supportive," Manning said.
The cameras, which can tilt, pan and zoom, will be placed at Dubois Park, the Oyster Factory Park, down Calhoun Street and along May River Road from Bluffton Road to Pin Oak Street, Manning said.
Engineers with the town and Charlotte-based company WildFire Camera Networks are determining the exact placement of each camera, Manning said.
Town Council has supported the plan since it was first discussed in February and reviewed a budget update for the project Tuesday. The $95,000 amendment, which awaits final approval by council next month, would cover the estimated $89,000 cost of the cameras, and $6,000 for electrical boxes and a secure Wi-Fi channel for them to use, assistant town manager of finance and administration Shirley Freeman said.
The camera system would be paid for with the town's accommodations-tax revenue, which is levied on overnight lodging and is to be used for tourism-related projects. The money can be used for the cameras because the system is being installed in the town's tourism center, Freeman said.
The plan, introduced by Police Chief Joey Reynolds, initially called for only 14 cameras clustered around Calhoun Street and Buckwalter Place. Manning said the proposed system is a work in progress and was altered after engineers assessed the areas of need.
The cameras would record on a 10-day loop, and officers would be able to pull up a feed from police headquarters, a mobile command center or even from their patrol cars, Manning said. He noted that the technology would have been especially helpful in April, when police investigated two separate shooting incidents on May River Road.
The system would be a step forward in terms of security, Old Town Dispensary owner Thomas Viljac said Friday.
Outside Viljac's restaurant, patron Dustin Mason, 32, agreed.
"It makes sense," Mason, of Hilton Head Island, said. "If you're not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about it."
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.