Prairie Township trustees heard both sides of the argument on proposed street lighting in the Lake Darby Estates area, then proceeded with plans to establish a light district in preparation to have 29 lights installed and assess property owners $5 a month for five years.
The proposal for street lights was brought forth through a resident’s petition and a public hearing held at the trustees’ Nov. 5 meeting.
“I started the petition because of safety,” Jo Ann Reynolds told the trustees at the public hearing that preceded the regular meeting.
Trustees had just returned from a visit to the area.
“It’s dark in the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s scary. You can’t walk early in the morning. And if police have to come at night to look for a suspect, just think of their safety in the dark.”
Her neighbors on Stillwater agreed with her. Allison Wallace, a 30-year resident of the area in the far western reaches of the township, said “It’s very dark out there and crime is coming our way. We would be safer if we had lights.”
The area where lights are sought is considered the Lake Darby Estates 2, Lake Darby Estates 2 Extended and Lake Darby North Street Lighting District.
While the proponents stressed the need for safety, the opponents claimed if they wanted the area lighted, they would turn on lights at their residence. They also voiced concern about the added cost.
Joe Wilson took issue with lights stopping crime, saying “I don’t know how they stop crime.”
Another of his concerns was a single neighbor on a fixed income.
“Perhaps she can’t afford the five or ten dollars a month,” he said.
Figures distributed show 29 top post lamps at $18.59 each would be installed. Factoring in the costs of restoring lawns after the installation and other expenses would bring the total to $40,800 for a five-year period, bringing the assessment to the property owners to $5 a month.
Chris Rorris questioned whether the assessment would remain the constant figure quoted today.
“Who believes it will be $5 (by the end of the five years)?” he asked. “I don’t.”
Township officials sought to calm his fears as trustees chairman Nicole Schlosser said that some agreements had been renewed recently and the assessments were lower than they had started out.
Grant Fish said he didn’t like the appearance of the lights and Robert Merri said he enjoys the darkness and doesn’t want his yard torn up.
Out of the 141 pieces of property in the area, 74 owners signed the petition in favor of the lights while 39 said they were against their installation. After the initial petition was circulated, some people whohad been on the “yes” side changed their mind and went over to the “no” side. However, the majority of those signing said they wanted the lights.
“We will listen to what the majority wants,” said Schlosser before the unanimous vote was cast to proceed with the creation of a light district, similar to 16 others in the township, and to assess the property owners $5 a month for the next five years.
Trustees will notify the county auditor who will add the assessment to the property tax bills before they are mailed.
Also presented at the meeting was the sheriff’s report that showed undercover work Oct. 22 through 24 on Hilton Avenue, a one-block street lined with apartments in the eastern part of the township, resulted in 35 arrests. That included 22 drug-related charges, six prostitution charges and four for sales of alcohol to a minor. The report also showed $3,000 was confiscated, along with cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, guns and knives.
This activity was in addition to the report from the sheriff’s patrol bureau that showed 543 dispatched runs in the township in September with 101 reports taken and 47 arrests made.
The fire department presented the promotion list of firefighters and paramedics which the trustees approved. Tops on the list was Richard Critchfield who was promoted to lieutenant and sworn in to his new position at the meeting.
Trustees also voted to purchase 61 trees at a cost of $5,569 to be planted in the expanded section of the Galloway Cemetery.