No one likes to be left in the dark.
When Baldwin Borough residents learned that nearly 30 percent of their streetlights were being planned to be eliminated, many voiced their concerns—some on the Web, some just with one another.
But six residents took advantage of a special meeting with the Baldwin Borough Council on Tuesday night by speaking out to discuss that issue with those making the final decision.
Concerns ranged from the proposed elimination of a light near a cul-de-sac on Barbara Drive to another near the intersection of Barbara and Wallace drives to another in a deer-crossing area in the 3500 block of Churchview Avenue.
Lois Schell, of 3522 Churchview, pointed out that borough officials are set to eliminate the light outside of her home. Schell argued that doing so might endanger motorists who could not spot deer otherwise. She also said that streetlights help to deter crime.
Baldwin Mayor Alexander R. Bennett Jr. did not address Schell's deer concern directly but disagreed with streetlights being able to deter crime.
"I checked into it and found out that there really is no difference in crime," Mayor Bennett said, "because if your light is turned on, a criminal does not have to carry any lighting whatsoever. They can walk around your area with no flashlight or anything.
"If the lights are off, he'll have to use something to illuminate his way, and that's how (police) can catch him. So there's really no difference in crime."
Since no formal decision has been made yet regarding which lights will be spared from elimination, officials will investigate all other concerns, including Schell's about deer crossing.
"This might not happen for months, for years," Bennett said. "If you seriously need a light at your house ... we will leave it there or put it in with a new light."
As for lights near intersections, Bennett and Baldwin police Sgt. Kim Reising, who did the bulk of the streetlights research, assured residents that no lights at intersections will be eliminated. Reising said that all lights near fire hydrants and changes in road grade will be kept, as well.
Reising said that she will do another survey of all of the borough's streetlights after another public hearing on that topic at the Leland Park Community Center in south Baldwin on Monday, March 26. Residents are encouraged to bring their concerns to that hearing, as well. It starts at 7 p.m.
Some residents on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction that several lights will be taken out along the same stretch of road in a certain area, such as Custer Avenue, but Reising expressed confidence that that road and others will not be too dark.
"I did this (study) all at night," she said and pointed out that the list of lights to be eliminated—available here on the borough website and in this article's media gallery—does not include lights that will stay. "There are some areas where there's a streetlight (to be eliminated) 50 feet away from another one (that will stay in service)."
Council Vice President Michael Stelmasczyk said that, as part of Reising's research, around 40 Baldwin streetlights were discovered to not be working properly. Some of those lights will be repaired and kept.
But all of that will only happen after borough officials iron out residents' concerns.
Bennett said that the reason that the borough is considering the elimination of 376, or around 28 percent of the borough's 1,350 streetlights, is simply to save money.
"We always look for ways of saving money," he said, in an effort to keep taxes down.
Duquesne Light owns the streetlights, and they cost about $240,000 per year to operate, Bennett said. If Duquesne Light were to take down the 376 lights at a cost of $160 per elimination, the borough would not see significant savings until the following years, which Baldwin Borough Manager John Barrett estimates would be around $66,000 annually.
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