Broad Ripple residents face roadblock over additional streetlights

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The Broad Ripple Village Association is looking at two ways to curb crime. One involves new parking restrictions, the other increased street lighting.

"The better lit the side streets (will be) one of our best safety measures," said BRVA's Elizabeth Marshall.

Colleen Fanning, who's lived in Broad Ripple for five and a half years, agreed.

"I think it's really hard for crime to appear when there's light and we have a vigilant neighborhood but in darkness it's hard to protect each other," she said.

While residents have been encouraged to add outdoor lights and keep them on overnight, getting streetlights installed is another story.

At this point, they're pretty much on their own. In 1981, then-Mayor William Hudnut imposed a moratorium on paying for new streetlights because of budget issues.

While Marshall says some residents have paid to install light fixtures on an existing poles (which IPL says runs $130, with lease fees $6.18 a month), most of the power poles in Broad Ripple are in alleys.

"So it's not just adding some extra lights in, it's the fact there is not IPL power on the front side of these homes, and that adds to the cost significantly," she said.

DPW estimates installing a wooden pole and running the power lines typically costs about $2,000.

Fanning says she'd be willing to pitch in, but adds, "it's unfortunate because it's a citywide problem. It's effecting all of Indianapolis, not just our little neighborhood [but] every neighborhood should get help with crime. That's why we pay taxes. I'd like to see the city lift the moratorium and pony up."

DPW spokesperson Stephanie Wilson said increasing street lighting is part of the mayor's strategic plan for public safety. She said DPW has been in talks with IMPD, IPL and neighborhood groups about ways to make that happen.

Marshall said the BRVA has also been exploring ways to increase lighting - possibly getting an electrical firm to charge a fixed price for installing "standard light poles that help with public safety but define the neighborhood as well." She said they were also looking into grants to offset some of the costs to residents.

The BRVA is also working with the city on new parking restrictions along residential streets. The city helped fund a new $15 million parking garage at College and Westfield Boulevard two years ago to alleviate congestion along residential streets and improve safety but it hasn't been heavily used.

Part of the proposed plan includes limiting parking on residential streets to just one side of the street.

Marshall said the idea is "let's get some cars off street and into the well-lit garage and keep visitors safe and cut down on the activity on these residential streets to the extent we can."

While the BRVA had originally envisioned a parking permit program, Marshall said that proved "too complicated."

The BRVA and DPW are still working out details. The council will need to sign off on the changes.