'Lights Out' Proposal Raises Safety Worries

Muncie Considers Turning Off Half Of Street Lights

A Muncie city councilman's idea for solving some of the city's budget woes is a novel approach, but some don't think it's a bright idea.

Councilman Sam Marshall proposed shutting off half of the city's lights to slice into the city's deficit, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

"Our budget is $630,000. We wanted to cut that in half to $315,000 and look at a plan where we can have the main intersections taken care of," said Marshall, who spoke outside Muncie Fire Station No. 1, which he said was shut down because of layoffs.

Marshall said he'd rather turn off every other street light in the city than lay off more police and firefighters.

"I think it's a good idea. It saves money," said one resident, but others are worried about safety.

"There would be more crimes without anybody seeing them," said one resident.

"You have to be concerned about security, so if you looked at areas that have a little less crime, they could find some areas they could cut," said Guy Gilbert, who works in Muncie.

Ball State University students who walk dark streets getting to and from campus were also concerned about the proposal.

"There have been a lot of people getting mugged on campus, and I feel like if there was more lighting, that wouldn't happen," said Zach Davis, a student from Westfield.

"I care about the environment, and I want them to do things that are environmentally sound, but I don't think it's safe," said graduate student Stacy Defibaugh.

Marshall said he thinks the safety issue is overblown.

"I believe crime is deterred by police officers, and that's what keeps crime off the streets, not street lights," he said.

The city is examining the feasibility of turning off every other street light. It would likely mean taking the bulbs out of about 2,000 street lights, which would take quite a bit of time and manpower.

Marshall said several communities have turned off lights, including Merrillville, in northwestern Indiana, adding that it's one of the best and quickest ways to help balance an unbalanced budget.

If lights are dimmed, Muncie residents would have to rely on more of their home and garage lighting.

The city's administrators and the electric company are working to devise a plan to implement a light plan, if it's approved.