NORFOLK — Resident John Evans has lived in his neighborhood for nearly nine years but has a concern: the street he lives on is too dark to feel safe.
Evans submitted a service request for additional outdoor lighting on his street to the “Norfolk Cares Center,” on May 22 but hasn’t heard anything yet.
And, for him, the circumstance is urgent.
“I have had my truck rummaged through a few times,” he said. “Someone vandalized my wife’s car and once it was rummaged through. Someone also destroying the tinted wind deflectors on the driver side attempting to break in.”
According to the city’s “Lighten Up” program, “research has shown that crime tends to decline in neighborhoods that are well lit.”
Even so, Walter Ezell, the transportation engineering assistant who receives lighting requests through Norfolk Cares, says 98 percent of city roadways are already lit, and although residents cite “crime” as a reason for additional lighting, “there are simply too many factors to narrow crime rates down specifically to street lighting.”
“There are neighborhoods in Norfolk with no street lighting (by request) with little to no crime, and exceptionally well-lit areas in Norfolk with high crime rates,” he said. “Regardless of the reason cited, the city takes all requests for additional street lighting seriously and investigates each request on a case by case basis.”
Ezell evaluates each request for service by studying the area and determining the need for additional lighting based on existing lighting.
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“If the study warrants additional street lighting I will then put in a work request with Dominion Energy,” he said.
Ezell said once submitted, construction to install a new street light can take six months to one year depending on Dominion Energy’s schedule.
If the city rep determines there is no existing lighting — at least half of the requestor’s neighbors have to come to an agreement.
“The resident must get a petition signed by at least 50 percent of the residents on the affected block to the city,” Ezell said.
If all else fails, the person wanting the light has the option to go to Dominion Energy to request a “watch light,” or outdoor lighting installed on their property at their own expense.
Jerri Northedge, Dominion Energy’s outdoor lighting program manager, said the flat rate price of a “watch light” is based on style, size, and location, but the average is about $10 per month added to the resident’s electric bill.
Evans said he’ll continue to press the city for additional lighting on his street, “it’s necessary for people like my wife who works late and comes home after midnight. ”
Ezell added the city needs residents’ help to manage Norfolk’s 32,000 street lights.
“We ask that residents report street lighting outages to Norfolk Cares or Dominion Energy directly as soon as they can,” he said. “The nearest address or the 9-digit pole number helps us tremendously to identify, report, and repair streetlights expeditiously.”