By Shannon Brands
A couple weeks ago, I noticed the street I live on became very dark at night. After noticing some of the street lights were missing, I decided to write the city a letter.
I wanted to share this with all of the residents of Rockford because it affects us all. This city needs to do something proactive about safety, and this is just a major step in the opposite direction.
I don’t know about the rest of the city, but it’s hard enough these days to pay your individual electric bill, much less pick up the city’s, too.
Here is the reply I received from the City of Rockford:
Thank you for bringing your issue forward using the City of Rockford’s website.
I don’t think anyone is in favor of taking down street lights, however we can no longer pay the $3,000,000 light bill. We had to reduce the bill by $500,000 by taking down 2,300 lights out of the 14,000 that the city has. We pay an average of $20 per month per light. ComEd has until the end of the year to take those lights down at their cost.
They have taken down somewhere around 1,500 lights so far.
When we planned on what lights to take down, we did not look at the lights for public safety. We followed what street lights are intended to be, which is traffic safety and followed those guidelines. Meaning we have a light at an intersection, in front of schools, churches, etc. We took down mid-block lighting, unless it’s a long block. There are some exceptions to this, and I do understand Wesleyan is a somewhat curvy road.
We ask that you keep your porch lights or yard lights on at night, and get to know your neighbors and surroundings; it is one of the best anti-crime tools you have.
Alderman [Nancy] Johnson has approved this lighting reduction plan and has been in contact with us as well as the police department regarding any issues. I will make sure she is aware of your concerns as well, if you have not already contacted her.
One option I can offer is to contact ComEd new business, and they can provide a rental light that would be the same as a streetlight, except on a short bracket on the pole where there used to be a streetlight.
This would cost between $10-$15/month for you to rent. They power on and off at dusk and dawn, and maintenance is included in the rental fee.
If you are interested in this, you may contact 1-866-639-3531, press option 2, then 2 again and this will get you through to a live person to set up a referral.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me at the number below or via e-mail.
Thank you again.
Assistant Operations Manager
Public Works Engineering Division
Office: (815) 967-6915
Shannon Brands is a Rockford resident.
From the Nov. 23-29, 2011, issue