Newburyport–Turning Off Street Lights–Not Such a Bright Idea

When I read the proposal by the Energy Advisory Committee to turn off 30% of Newburyport’s Street lights in the Newburyport Daily News yesterday, my reaction was not unlike my first sighting of Newburyport’s Wind Turbine, which as I recall, was to give it the finger.

It made me so angry, that I decided to sleep on the information before writing a post that could be full of expletives. (The working headline for this post yesterday was “Turning Off Newburyport Street Lights–A Really Stupid Idea.” The title has been toned down somewhat.)

I grew up in New York City. One of the frustrating things about living in New York City was that it was not safe to go out after dark– i.e. big time for crime and muggings.

One of the things that I really love about our small, coastal New England city is that it is safe and fun to walk around the city after dark (which living in New England often occurs as early as 4:00 PM).

The city since I moved here almost 3 decades ago, has become a growingly safer place to live (I definitely would not have walked around certain areas after dark). And yes, Newburyport has become more affluent, but that does not necessarily mean less crime, especially if you turn out 30% of the street lights. Good grief. Certain visitors from out of town (I spot them often in Newburyport, MA, they stick out big time) do break into cars and homes. How much easier would it be to do so on nice darkened residential streets.

And, we are a “smart growth city,” i.e. we are encouraged to try and bike and walk in our walkable city. Hard to do so if the streets are dark. And as I said before, certain times of year it gets dark as early as 4:00 PM.


If the Energy Advisory Committee would like us to be “green” as far as street lights go, how about thinking about solar street lights.

Expensive you ask? Yes, but some of our US cities have done so with Federal grant money.

The city of Louisville Kentucky purchased its equipment from a grant to the Partnership for a Green City, from the United States Department of Energy.

The town of Dania, Florida’s solar street lights were funded by a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Hurricane proof no less and no problem with power outages.

I’m all for green, but I’m not for green and stupid.