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Neighbors hope debate sheds light on Columbia street lamps

Columbia City Ordinance said street lights must be placed at every intersection in a residential area. If there is no intersection within 400 feet, lights must be placed somewhere within that distance. (KRCG 13)

Many do not think twice about the lights lining their streets, but some homeowners in Columbia said lights mean a sense of security.

"Walking at night is kind of scary because there is a light only every block or so. It's not very well lit so it feels not as safe as it could," Abigail Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the lack of lighting makes it difficult to feel safe walking her dog.

A Columbia City ordinance said street lights must be placed at every intersection in a residential area. If there is no intersection within 400 feet, lights must be placed somewhere within that distance.

The city is responsible for making sure street lights are properly maintained.

"Sometimes we get calls in and we'll go out and evaluate whether or not this is up to code and in that case we'll put in a new light if it's not," Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Lucia Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said older neighborhoods might have natural barriers blocking light such as trees causing some streets to appear darker.

One homeowner said he enjoys the darkness of the night.

"The street light across the street of me was replaced with an LED recently which was very, very bright and so I complained to the city. The city came out this past Monday and dimmed the light for me," John Markovitz, a Columbia homeowner said.

Whether homeowners think the street is too light or too dark, the city said the neighbors need to come together and form a consensus before they make changes to the light.

"If we don't have a consensus and we're up to code then it makes it a little bit more challenging to come up with a good solution," Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said Schmidt's neighborhood in East Campus is one where neighbors have not been able to come to an agreement.

Until an agreement is reached, Schmidt said she will walk her dog with a flashlight in hand.

"My dog needs the exercise so I have no choice, but to get out there and walk my dog in the dark," Schmidt said.

The City of Columbia passed an installation of a pilot street lighting project on January 2. The City Council authorized the replacement of six street lights along Broadway, between Hitt Street and Waugh Street.

To contact Columbia Water and Light's Office: 573-874-2489.

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