As the days begin to get shorter, one street in Red Wing will have more light.
City Council approved a pilot program for brighter street lighting during its June 24 meeting. The light fixtures on East Fifth Street, from Bluff to Centennial streets, will be upgraded to increase their lumens, or the amount of light emitted.
Council member Laurel Stinson said she has heard numerous requests for better lighting throughout Red Wing.
"Pretty much from the time I was elected people started coming to me to talk about street lights, particularly in the neighborhood where the pilot program has been started," she said.
According to city staff, when the city's lights were last updated by Xcel Energy, they were not as bright as previously installed lights.
"The representatives explained that the lower lumen level fixtures were chosen in order to provide what they felt was enough light output and would still provide a credit to municipalities for the upgrade to a more energy efficient fixture," according to a staff report stated.
The report continued that higher lumens are available for installation, but they would cost the city more money each year. There is also a risk that some residents may not appreciate brighter street lights.
While city staff spoke with Xcel Energy, Red Wing Police Department compiled research to see if increased brightness would impact public safety. The final report listed ways that more lighting could lead to less crime, including deterring offenders by increasing the risk they would be seen and the perception that a neighborhood is no longer "an easy target."
The report also identified possibilities for increased lighting to result in higher crime rates, such as disorderly youth staying outside longer, houses left empty due to increased outside activity at night, and making it easier to facilitate illegal acts like drug deals.
After reviewing potential pros and cons and other information, Police Chief Roger Pohlman concluded that increased street light would be potentially helpful for the department.
"Upon review of the data presented, the Red Wing police department recommends the improvement of lighting within the east end reporting area," according to the report. "The Red Wing Police Department believes that the investment in improved street lighting on the east end is a worthy project if the total cost can be completed within $30,000 - number determined by using the estimated cost per crime for assault, burglary, criminal damage, robbery, threats, and vehicle thefts, by the number of calls for service in 2018 on the east end divided by 50%. Therefore an estimated 50% reduction in the indicated areas reported is estimated to provide the one year savings indicated."
The pilot program does not have a set start or end date; the city is still working with Xcel Energy to complete the details. City and Xcel Energy staff are also working to determine the lumen levels that will be installed for the pilot program.