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More in News
Streetlights to stay on as Paris residents illuminate risks
(PARIS) - Halloween is usually a major event on Paris Hill. Residents from Norway and South Paris, among others, take their children there for the generous treats offered by residents.
Jogging and walking - especially among senior citizens - are other highly popular activities. Athletes love to do their outdoor activities because of the steep inclines and the natural beauty of their surroundings.
Those activities, not to mention the basic safety concerns of residents and visitors, were at the mercy of a citizens' vote this week on whether to turn out 41 street lights in Paris, many of them on Paris Hill. The idea surfaced when a member of the town's budget committee suggested the lights be turned off, according to Town Manager Amy Bernard.
In the end, the residents won out, as they remained convinced that darkened streets would have led to an exacerbated speeding problem, a potential rise in crime and "an accident waiting to happen," according to Mary Beth Caffey, pastor of First Baptist Church of Paris.
"One of the beautiful things about Paris Hill is that people from Norway and Paris use it," Caffey said, referring to the mile-long walking area that swings around Lincoln and Tremont streets, and back to Paris Hill Road near the church. "And we get every variety of dog you can imagine."
Caffey said there are lots of pedestrians who walk the area also, and, had the lights been turned off, would have had a negative impact on the community.
"There really are no sidewalks," she added. "It's just a very relaxed area."
That tranquil feel could be interrupted, she said, if motorists who already speed felt empowered in more dimly lit areas.
"The speed limit on Paris Hill is supposed to be 25 mph," Caffey noted. "It's more like 40. It doesn't matter what time of day it is. They know they're not going to get caught.
"We have somewhere between 500 and 800 kids up here on Halloween," Caffey said."Halloween is a major event up here."
To be sure, Caffey says that between 5:15 p.m. and 7 p.m., the streets of Paris Hill are filled with youngsters trick or treating.
"If the weather is good, it is an amazing event," she added.
During a recent meeting of the Paris Selectboard, several residents spoke of the speeding problem on Ryerson Hill Road. Caffey concurred.
"I'm afraid we're going to have something happen out here. We all live with that fear," Caffey added.
Further compounding the issue, she said, is the high number of senior citizens who use the streets for their own exercise routines.
"We just needed the lights on," she said.
Had the street lights been shut off, the town would have saved $6,384.97 annually, according to Bernard. A total of 41 street lights would have been affected, with Paris Hill and Paris Hill Road taking the hardest hit.
Bernard said to her understanding,the Selectboard "is not going to pursue this any further."
"We had 22 people who advocated for their street lights," Bernard said. "It was a public safety issue."
Among the concerns expressed at the public hearing was the possibility of increased crime occurring as a result. Bernard said the Paris Police department looked at it, and, should the matter resurface, the fire department would be involved. One of the street lights involved was within 50 feet of a fire hydrant, something Bernard said removed that particular light from consideration.
The public hearing on Monday at the Paris Fire Station provided the 24 citizens who attended an opportunity to express their thoughts. By meeting's end, Bernard said only two people spoke in favor of the street lights being turned off.
"It was a public hearing allowing the residents to come in and let voices be heard," Bernard said.
In all, 41 street lights were targeted, and Paris Hill has 30 streetlights. The proposal that failed was to remove 11 of them, which is just more than a third of those targeted for losing their street lights, Bernard said.
"We tried to do it in a rational manner," Bernard said. "They (citizens) didn't want their street lights turned off. I don't think the street lights are going to be a target for reductions in the near future.
"The board did the will of the people."