Environment

Residents: Thanks, but no thanks, to streetlights

Millersville community 'shuts off' county's offer

By ERIN COX, Staff Writer
The Capital 04/13/09

Joshua McKerrow — The Capital Some neighbors in the Indian Landing Estates community protested a county plan to put up six new streetlights, arguing that in tough financial times, the money would be better spent elsewhere.

At night, only starlight illuminates the far end of Indian Landing Road as it narrows into a tree-lined country lane. Yet, neighbors in this Millersville community are saying thanks, but no thanks, to the county's offer to install six new streetlights.

The uncommon move to turn down government help, which other communities petition to receive, is partly linked to news of the economic recession.

"Citizens are doing their part by saying, 'Don't spend any more,' " resident Inga Drewniak said.

A majority of Indian Landing Estates neighbors have decided that, despite traffic concerns and the judgment of the county police, who recommended the lights, residents prefer the money be spent elsewhere.

The neighbors say they like their street the way it is, and even though each light costs only about $20 a month, most residents contend it's an unnecessary expense that their community could live without.

On the eve of a community meeting about the lights, one neighbor posted "No Street Light Zone" signs in his yard, and the county is still debating what to do next.

"Right now, the project's on hold as we figure out what exactly the community wants," county spokesman David Abrams said. The streetlight project also included two new lights in other areas of the neighborhood and replacing existing mercury-vapor light bulbs in some street lamps with sodium-vapor bulbs that are better for the environment.

"If the community does not want this, we won't do it," Abrams said. "We're not interested in imposing lights on people."

The streetlight program spends $300,000 a year on installing and upgrading lamps in neighborhoods to improve road safety and reduce crime. It's one of County Executive John R. Leopold's several "quality-of-life" initiatives. So far this year, the county has spent about $150,000 on the program.

"This money's going to be spent," Abrams said. "If it's not on this street, it'll be on another."

Neighbors who rallied against the streetlights also said they believed the lamps would create light pollution and encourage drivers to increase their speeds on the better-lit road.

Bob Grimm, president of the Indian Landing Improvement Association, said his neighbors' opposition took him by surprise. Another resident concerned about speeders and safety on curved portions of the road had asked to police to consider a streetlight solution.

"It seemed at the time that it would not be a controversial issue," Grimm said. "At that time, it seemed like a no-brainer."

(Revised April 2009)