New Haven Action, an organization that focuses on nonpartisan community issues, has launched a campaign to increase street lighting in the city, starting with the Dwight and Dixwell neighborhoods adjacent to campus.
The group plans to work in coordination with landlords, residents and city officials to raise funds for its campaign, NHA member Berry Kennedy ’08 said. Members will use light sensors to check that levels of lighting in different parts of the city abide by national standards and will report any discrepancy to city officials, she said.
NHA Clean Energy Campaign Director Brittney Hunt ’07 said she thinks inadequate street lighting encourages crime, affecting the entire community.
“Areas which are dark are more likely to be high-crime areas,” she said. “We are working with the community to address an issue that affects everyone in New Haven and Yale.”
Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said he also thinks a lack of street lighting contributes to crime. He said the city has already worked to address this issue in some areas this fall.
“Studies have shown that less crime happens in better-lit areas,” he said. “This fall we went out and did a lot of places again, and we ended up doing some work on Lynwood Place, Edgewood and Wall Street.”
The Dwight and Dixwell neighborhoods have been a primary focus for NHA because they house a significant portion of the off-campus student population, Hunt said.
Matthew Short, head of the administrative office at Chelsea Company, which owns property in the Dwight and Dixwell areas, said he had been planning a similar initiative before NHA’s campaign and will encourage the dissemination of house lamps.
“I think it’s a great initiative,” he said. “We’re going to sponsor some private lights and look for some of the bigger landlords to sponsor some as well to get this going.”
Patten said he thinks the lighting situation will improve in the winter months.
“Places light up a little more because leaves aren’t there,” he said. “There was a lot of work that was done in those three particular areas by the city.”
Students living off campus said they are enthusiastic about the prospects of increased lighting in their neighborhoods.
Off-campus resident Ben Felt ’07 said he thinks increased lighting will improve quality of life in the area.
“I think it’s a great campaign, as a lack of lighting is one of the main things that encourages crime,” he said. “I think it will be of great help to increasing safety for students who live off campus.”
Fidel Martinez ’07, who also lives off-campus, said he thinks increased lighting may also boost New Haven’s economy.
“If crime goes down, it will help benefit the local economy and property values,” he said.
But some students living in Yale housing said they think the campaign should also focus on increasing lighting around more central campus locations, especially during the winter months.
“I think better lighting is required for the entire campus,” Jessica Jeffers ’09 said. “Night sets in so early, which encourages crime.”
The NHA campaign does not plan to focus on campus lighting, Kennedy said, although a Yale College Council campaign supported by NHA is currently working to address the issue.