Melbourne installing new street security cameras as local businesses shut down: 'Never seen it this bad'

Small businesses are abandoning downtown Melbourne as the city installs new security cameras to try and make the area safer. 

There’s been a mass exodus of merchants in the past few weeks because of homelessness and crime concerns in the area, according to some business owners. 

The newest business closing its doors is the East Coast Winery. The owner was tearing down and clearing out on Monday when FOX 35 visited downtown Melbourne. 

Bare walls and bottles of wine are all that's left at the local wine shop. The owner made the tough call to close after a 20-year run.

"The downtown’s been going downhill quite a bit," said Brenda Bussiere, who owns the winery. 

She says people loitering near her business, cars street racing and having to clean up human waste forced her to a breaking point. 

"There’s just a lot of issues that make me feel like I’m not comfortable downtown anymore," Bussiere said. 

She’s not the only one closing her doors.

A clothing boutique on New Haven Avenue is also selling everything, and just down the street "For Rent" signs are sticking out on several windows of former restaurants. 

"It’s a shame," said Tom Grace, who was visiting from Altamonte Springs.

Shoppers are devastated, and the city thinks new security cameras will help.

At a recent city council meeting, the city of Melbourne moved forward with the installation of new CCTV security cameras recording 24/7 to "provide additional surveillance and oversight by Melbourne PD for the downtown area."

The cameras will be scattered along New Haven Avenue and will cost the city around $83,000.

"There’s way worse areas," said one downtown Melbourne employee who isn’t sure the new cameras will really help improve the area. 

Not everyone thinks downtown is dangerous or full of problems, but shoppers say something needs to be done if it’s affecting businesses. 

"They need to nip it in the bud instead of just letting it keep growing and growing and growing,"Grace said.

Merchants and visitors want to see businesses growing instead of shutting down.

"I’ve never seen it this bad," Bussiere said. 

Downtown visitors and small business owners say anything helps when it comes to public safety, but moving forward, some business owners say they’d like to see more meetings between local merchants and city leaders to talk about issues and address them before things get out of hand.