Let there finally be light in the dark streets of Atlantic City

Atlantic City still can’t keep its streetlights on, after years of complaints and some effort to fix the problem. Parts of the municipal administration also seem unaware of the methods and responsibilities for providing basic public services.

We’ve been pushing the city for years to relight its broken streetlights. Six years ago, we urged residents to help their local government do just that by reporting streetlights that aren’t working. Since we have repeatedly heard from residents that nothing is happening after their helpful reports.

For several years, the Atlantic City Police Department’s effective campaign to reduce serious crime has identified the city’s riskiest locations. These get extra attention from the police, their abandoned buildings are repaired and their streetlights restored or even replaced with brighter ones.

The link between working lights and safe streets has now brought the issue to the most effective organization in the city today, the Clean and Safe Atlantic City group. He made it his goal to light the streetlights to prevent crime, increase public safety, and show the world a functioning city. How hard could that be?

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This being Atlantic City, even these powerful and dedicated officials and stakeholders quickly discovered that even fixing the lights can be very difficult.

One of the challenges is that there are multiple streetlight owners, including the city government, Atlantic City Electric, and private companies such as casinos.

Significant efforts have been made in the past. CRDA paid half a million dollars five years ago to repair and replace city-owned lights. It left some, perhaps possessed by others, still broken. And on a salt-air barrier island, many electric streetlights can fail within five years.

Atlantic City Electric promised in January last year to quickly repair about 130 company-owned streetlights. The utility said last month that it had repaired more than 1,030 company-owned streetlights in Atlantic City so far, with 82 company-owned lights reported as being out. All company-owned lights currently out are expected to be repaired within six weeks.

These are good efforts, but other municipalities manage to keep their streets lit without an accumulation of non-functional lights requiring special effort. Local officials simply take responsibility for ensuring that this important service to the public is provided reliably and cost effectively.

We are shocked that of the many government officials in Atlantic City, none have apparently taken on or been tasked with this important responsibility routinely handled elsewhere. It’s quite simple: map every lamppost in the city and who owns it, implement a reliable method to quickly identify lights that have failed, order them to be repaired quickly if the city is owned, and notify other owners of their need. perform a repair on a specific date.

Once the city has done this, they can find out if potential criminals are breaking the lights to cover the darkness and thwart the video cameras recording the evidence. Increased monitoring and heavier penalties for damaged streetlights may then be necessary.

State officials also want to see the street lighting issue resolved. If having multiple lighthouse owners is in itself a problem, perhaps the state could help consolidate lighthouse ownership.

Jim Allen, president of Hard Rock International, warned in early 2020 that continued private investment benefiting everyone in the city would only happen if its streets were safe and welcoming. He said the local government needed dedication to do things like stop criminal activity on the streets and get all the streetlights working, adding: “We don’t understand why there isn’t a sense of urgency. to fix these things.”

We are pleased that the Clean and Safe Atlantic City group, with its welcome determination, has addressed this issue.

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