Putting spotlight on dark streets

Hamilton Hill residents plan to protest area's burned-out streetlights

Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Wednesday, April 2, 2008

SCHENECTADY - There are dark corners in the city that once lit the world.

A nonprofit group representing Hamilton Hill residents plans to protest Thursday night about burned-out streetlights throughout the neighborhood. "You feel like you're held hostage and no one should feel that way," said Rosetta Secor, a Paige Street resident who said the darkness encourages gang and drug activity.

Secor said she's afraid to walk to the corner store at night. People who get mugged can't identify their assailants because of the darkness, she said.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Schenectady chapter, is organizing a walk with flashlights and candles starting at Mumford and Van Voast streets at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Harold Miller, organizer for Schenectady's ACORN chapter, said he sent letters about the problem to the city's supervisor of signal control, John Coluccio, and Mayor Brian U. Stratton's office, and has received no response.

But Schenectady Director of Operations Sharon Jordan said it's National Grid's job to replace streetlight bulbs. The poles are owned by National Grid and it takes complaints about lights.

"What has to happen is if you see a light out you have to know the pole number and the street and you can call it in and it will be fixed," Jordan said. She said the city will forward complaints from residents to National Grid.

National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella said it usually takes two to five days to replace a light bulb after a complaint comes in, longer if the pole is malfunctioning.

Miller said residents have been confused about how to report burned-out bulbs because they believed they should contact the city's Bureau of Signal Control. Many of those calls have not been returned, Miller said. Coluccio couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Thursday protest is targeting dark areas at Paige and Van Voast streets, Schenectady Street near Strong Street, and Steuben Street between Duane and Lincoln avenues.

ACORN said it also wants additional lighting in those areas. Stella said the city would have to formally request more lights from National Grid.

Lauren Stanforth can be reached at 454-5697 or by e-mail at lstanforth@timesunion.com.