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Residents raise funds to brighten neighborhood, fight crime

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Residents in one of Greenwood’s largest neighborhoods felt unsafe when growing trees started to shroud street lights in some areas, leaving them poorly lit.

The residents of Valle Vista neighborhood along Smith Valley Road raised more than $10,000 and got Greenwood to help out with the rest of the cost of the $15,397 project.

New and brighter lights soon will be installed, Greenwood Community Services director Mark Richards said. The hope is that brighter street lights will prevent crime and make the neighborhood safer at night, he said.

Greenwood had in some cases paid for all the street lights when they would deter crime and improve visibility in neighborhoods. But the city no longer has the money to do that and likely will share future streetlight installation costs with residents, similar to what is being done in Valle Vista, Richards said.

Two other neighborhoods have asked for Greenwood to install streetlights in the past two years, in one case because the developer went out of business before the lights were installed, Richards said. He is working on a new policy for how the city would handle such requests and plans to bring a proposal to the Greenwood Board of Public Works and Safety sometime early next year.

The policy would guide the board on how it should share the cost of installing streetlights with residents or homeowners associations, Richards said. The board ultimately would decide what to do on a case-by-case basis, he said.

“It would be safe to say that the days of the city paying 100 percent to install streetlights are over,” he said. “There’s a lack of funds.”

Most subdivisions in Greenwood have streetlights, and the city requires developers to install them in new neighborhoods, Richards said. But older and newly annexed neighborhoods don’t always have streetlights.

Valle Vista has lights throughout most of the neighborhood, Richards said. But as the subdivision has aged, the trees have grown and reduced the amount of light they give off, Richards said.

Other lights in Valle Vista were too dim for current standards, he said.

Nate Robe and other Valle Vista residents approached the city about the lights about two years ago. They were concerned that lights were shrouded or not bright enough along stretches of streets that include Padre Lane, Hacienda Place and Arroyo Road.

Plans call for new light poles at three different places in Valle Vista and brighter lights at two intersections on Smith Valley Road, Richards said. Duke Energy also will replace 100W lighting with 150W bulbs at about a dozen locations throughout the neighborhood.

Greenwood agreed last year to spend up to $5,000 in tax dollars on the project. The homeowners association raised the rest of the money needed through dues that its members pay voluntarily, resident Karl Kreck said.

“It’s something that was really necessary,” he said. “There were a lot of dark areas where it wouldn’t be as visible for police and emergency vehicles.”

The utility company is expected to do the work sometime this year, but a schedule was not available.

Once street lights are installed, the city pays for the cost of keeping them lit. A single streetlight typically costs the city $8 to $12 per month.

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