Jacksonville's streetlight reduction plan upsets some business owners | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some streets could soon go dark in Jacksonville. The city has a plan to turn off more than 2,300 streetlights in areas all throughout the City by the end of January. The plan is to focus on industrial and commercial areas, but not residential ones.
Chris Webster opened Battalion Airsoft Arena just west of downtown less than a year ago. Now, he's learning the streetlights outside of his business may soon be turned off.
"I'm not happy about it to be honest with you because that means Dennis Street is going to be dark," Webster said.
Webster's is one of many neighborhoods where the city is looking to save money. By turning off more than 2,300 of the City's 109,000 streetlights, taxpayers will save around $300,000 the first year. That is, after the city pays the expenses of JEA crews who will red-tag the polls and turn them off. Last year, the city's total bill for streetlights was more than $9.5 million.
Council President Bill Bishop said he and his peers approved this in the budget.
"We wouldn't have done it if there hadn't been a money problem," Bishop explained. "This is not new to Jacksonville, there are a lot of cities that have done that throughout the country," he said.
It's a move business owners like Webster are questioning. Webster said it doesn't seem fair that he's still paying the same amount of taxes, but now, he'll get less for his money.
"This infrastructure is not supposed to change, and it seems like it is," Webster said.
Bishop added, "Each property is responsible for their own security on their own premises."
That's exactly what the airsoft arena owner did when he opened his business.
"I have been proactive about lighting the property. We have three acres here and we had lighting calculations done by JEA. So we are really well lit here," Webster said.
If you operate a business in one of the impacted areas, you will soon find a letter in your mailbox that will explain more about the program. City leaders are still finalizing locations. Here is a copy of that letter and the maps where City leaders are considering turning off the lights.