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BY LORENZO LIGATO | A mid-March inspection of the lighting conditions in the Christopher St. area led to the identification of more than 100 illumination problems. Today, two months later, the famed West Village street remains poorly lit.
The lighting inspection was sponsored by state Senator Tom Duane, in collaboration with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, state Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Community Board 2 and the West Village Coalition. The survey was conducted on March 15 and covered the area between W. 10th and Morton Sts. from Sixth Ave. to West St.
The study of the 28-block area followed a series of meetings between Duane and neighborhood stakeholders to discuss ways to increase safety on Christopher St. and in the surrounding blocks.
“Ensuring that our streets are as well-lighted as possible will help make our community safer and our neighborhood more welcoming for everyone who lives, works and visits here,” Duane said.
Joined by representatives of the Sixth Police Precinct, the Bedford-Barrow-Commerce Block Association, the Christopher St. Patrol and private volunteers, Duane and his staff identified 18 instances where streetlights were missing from their bases, nonfunctioning or obstructed by tree limbs. In addition, more than 100 multifamily residences in the survey area reportedly failed to meet exterior lighting requirements.
New York City law, Duane noted, requires owners of multifamily dwellings to “install and maintain one or more lights at or near the outside of the front entranceway of the building” to be kept lit from sunset to sunrise.
The findings of the survey, Duane said, have been transferred to the city’s Department of Transportation — the agency in charge of proper placement and functioning of streetlights — and to the Parks Department, which is responsible for pruning any trees that are blocking streetlights. Duane also said he sent letters to property owners of residential buildings lacking legally required exterior illumination to remind them of the existing regulations.
Numerous owners of multifamily residences responded to his outreach, Duane said, adding that he also heard back from some owners of single-family residences who — although not subject to the law — were interested in improving their buildings’ exterior lighting in the interest of the neighborhood.
Duane said the agencies have begun to take action to resolve the illumination issues found in the survey.
However, some residents and visitors of the Christopher St. area said they are not satisfied with what has been done on lighting in the past two months.
Dave Poster, head of the volunteer anticrime Christopher St. Patrol, was a member of one of the teams that surveyed the Christopher St. lighting conditions last March. Poster said he was enthusiastic about Duane’s initiative to assess outdoor illumination in the neighborhood, adding that well-lit streets are necessary to reduce criminal activity in the area.
“It’s safer for residents and visitors, and that’s what I’ve been doing for 21 years,” the activist said.
Yet, sadly, Poster noted, no changes have been implemented to address the insufficient illumination in some of the blocks bordering the Hudson River Park.
“There’s been no difference made, and I’d like to see a difference down here as much as anybody else would,” he said.
Richard Bourg, who works at the Italian restaurant Gaetana’s, at 143 Christopher St., agreed that he hasn’t seen much improvement in the past two months and that he would also welcome better-lit streets.
“However, it’s not just the lighting that is a problem,” Bourg added. “It’s what goes down around here.”