ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – What if stopping criminals in their tracks was as simple as screwing in a light bulb? (Or a few hundred?)
One of the more popular ideas submitted to “Rally St. Louis,” a digital effort to crowd-source civic-minded projects, suggests installing sidewalk-facing pedestrian lights to existing poles which hold the city’s ubiquitous orange-haze, cobra head street lights.
On one side, Great Rivers Greenway installed the pedestrian lights as part of improvements for the St. Vincent Greenway. Across the street, only murky shadows were discernible in the darkness.
21st ward Neighborhood Stabilization Officer Michael Powers pointed out to KMOX’s Michael Calhoun the stark difference between two sides of a street, just north of the Delmar Loop.
“The street feels instantly less safe,” Powers remarked.
He said he’s working on identifying streets in his ward which are heavily used by residents for various reasons, whether it’s a walk with the dog or a walk to the bus, and which would benefit from more light. He noted that lack of upkeep on some properties contributes to a shady streetscape.
“There’s fewer porch lights to keep things lit up,” he said. “There are places where the trees have grown so that the cobra heads are almost completely blocked now.”
The fixtures cost $1,500 apiece, and Powers estimates that $200,000 would go a long way toward brightening up several, several blocks.
“People are going to be able to see their cars. They’ll be able to see across the street and down the street,” he described. “It’s going to reduce car clouting, I think, in a dramatic way. It’s going to reduce muggings on the street in a dramatic way.”
By going the Rally St. Louis route, which seeks private funding and public donations for projects which get top votes from website visitors, Powers is bypassing the city bureaucracy. However, he hopes that if a pilot roll-out proves successful, aldermen will consider using city cash to shed some more light.
He said: “A lot of times what we’re using those pots of money on are banners and flyers and those kinds of things.”
Already, Powers says leaders in the Grove neighborhood are “seriously looking into” his idea.
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