Government

City Calls on Residents to Help ‘Light Up Neighborhood’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Since taking office this year, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown has made safety one of his top priorities, he said. During a press conference Tuesday, Brown outlined a strategy to address streetlight outages, which he said create a safety issue for pedestrians and motorists alike.

Through a partnership with FirstEnergy Corp., the city is working on its ‘Light Up the Neighborhood’ initiative, Brown said. The partnership is a “coordinated effort” to quickly address and remedy streetlight outages throughout the city for residents’ safety as well as a deterrent for crime, he said.

“When you turn those lights on, it creates a safer environment,” Brown said. “If you increase lighting, the criminals are less likely to go into that neighborhood.”

In the past, it wasn’t entirely clear who took ownership of the streetlights, whether it was the city or FirstEnergy, he said. The partnership helps to establish who is responsible for what.

When an outage is reported, FirstEnergy will respond within three days to address the outage and determine whether the light needs replaced or if the fixture requires additional repairs, said Troy Rhoades, area manager for FirstEnergy Corp.

“When those lights are reported to us, we are taking action on those,” Rhoades said.

For instances when there are more than 10 streetlights out, “we have internal staff from the city working with FirstEnergy to make sure those things are moving forward,” Brown added.

Downtown is the first focus area for the program. As lighting issues are addressed, FirstEnergy and the city will work their way out to the neighborhoods. Of the streetlights that are out downtown during the initial survey, about 20% have been fixed “and we hope to have the rest of them done by the end of July,” Rhoades said.

Brown called on citizens to help with the initiative and report any streetlights that are out in their neighborhood.

“If we don’t know they’re out, we can’t do anything about them,” Brown said. “We just want to make sure the citizens know that if they’re out in the neighborhood, or during your general travel, let’s report them.”

Residents can report an outage by calling 1 888 LIGHTSS (1 888 544 4877) and say “streetlight” after the greeting, or by visiting www.FirstEnergyCorp.com and clicking “Our Electric Companies” at the top of the page. From there, select the proper company and go to “Report lighting problem” under the Outages category.

When reporting an outage, residents will need to provide:

  • Name and phone number.
  • Address where the streetlight is located, such as the nearest house or business address and the nearest cross street.
  • Number on the utility pole.
  • Issue with the light – damaged pole, broken light fixture, if the light flickers or is off completely at night or on during the day.

As the fixtures age, Brown said the city is starting to discuss upgrading to LED lighting, but didn’t have a timetable as to when such an upgrade might take place.

“That’s somewhere I want to start driving the city to be more energy-efficient,” he said. “And having LED lights in our community is something that I want to make happen under my administration.”

Pictured above: Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Troy Rhoades, area manager for FirstEnergy Corp.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.