Neighbors upset over Racine plan to remove hundreds of street lights

CREATED Jan. 28, 2013

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RACINE - The city of Racine is considering a controversial proposal to remove hundreds of street lights. But neighbors say that will increase crime, and they are saying they will fight to stop it.

“I am quite upset about it,” said Jan Vogt.

Vogt has lived on Neptune Avenue for nearly 40 years. She said she's worried about crime going up here if the light in front of her home is taken out.

“We need to have some light here to keep track of what's going on,” Vogt added.

“it is a cost cutting measure to meet our 2013 budget,” said Mark Yehlen, Director of Public Works.

Yehlen said that his plan would save more than $100,000, and involved removing more than 785 street lights. Another 181 would be relocated. He said the lights aren't meant to prevent crime.

“Street lights are intended to provide driver and pedestrian safety they are not intended to provide security for individual property owners,” he said.

Harry Borth knows what it’s like to live in the dark. He lives on the other side of town.

“It gets really dark,” he said.

Yehlen said that blocks like Borth’s would get new street lights. He said the plan would make more areas more consistent.

“I've got three little grandsons and when I take them for a walk I usually carry some flashlights with me,” Borth said.

But that doesn't make Jan Vogt feel any better. She plans to call her alderman and Yehlen to start this plan before it’s lights out.

“They're are other things in this city they can cut beside safety for seniors, safety for people,” said Vogt.

The Public Works Commission will meet Tuesday night at city hall at 5:30 p.m., but the plan isn't on the agenda at this point. The public will get the chance to speak at the end of the meeting.