East Campus streetlight petition effort continues

Adding streetlights might not be best solution, resident says.

Many take the security of where they live for granted — not some of those who live in the East Campus area, however.

After several burglaries and an assault on East Campus last fall, MU junior Sarah Sprick began a petition to increase safety on East Campus by adding more streetlights. At present, many stretches of East Campus streets lack adequate lighting.

“Due to the increasing rates of attacks, sexual assaults and rapes on East Campus we are asking that more lights be installed in the neighborhoods of East Campus so that we can feel safe in our community and homes,” Sprick wrote in her online petition.

Sprick’s petition currently has 1,263 supporters, with a stated goal of 1,500. No streetlights have been added in East Campus since the petition began at the beginning of December. Normally, streetlights are requested by members of the community and then the city Water and Light Department approves and installs the lights, department spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz said.

“When I’m coming home at night, walking down Bass Avenue in the dark, I can’t see my hand in front of my face,” senior Arvin Bustos said.

Bustos said he has never felt unsafe or threatened while walking in the neighborhood, but more lights would be helpful.

Janet Hammen, chair of the East Campus Neighborhood Association and a resident of East Campus for more than 30 years, said adding streetlights is only part of safety improvement needs in the area.

“Of course someone will sign the petition and say we want things to be safer,” Hammen said. “I think we should also consider other solutions. Would more lights make people less fearful? Maybe, but I doubt it.”

Hammen said she and the neighborhood association are planning a safety walk with city officials and inspectors to see firsthand which areas need improvement.

Hammen also said many recent robberies in the area have occurred when doors or windows are left unlocked.

“I was told by two women living in East Campus that their landlord didn’t replace a broken lock on their back door for six months,” Hammen said. “It’s less of a problem of making the streets safer. We have to educate renters and make sure that landlords are keeping their units safe.”

Hammen because inspections on rental units in Columbia are currently only done every six years, she would recommend requiring annual inspections of rental properties, encouraging landlords to install motion detectors and implementing a better system to know when existing streetlights have burned out or broken.

Senior Katelin Williams said inspections and motion detectors do not address the feeling of fear. Though Williams said she has never been the victim of a crime, she has seen car windows smashed.

“I’m always afraid someone’s going to break in or sneak up on me in the dark,” Williams said.

Hammen, however, said she does not feel unsafe in the neighborhood.

“I’ve lived here for a long time,” Hammen said. “I’ve raised two kids as a single mom and walked my dogs every day. I think the only thing that’s ever happened is someone stole a flowerpot off my porch. I don’t think it’s unsafe and I’m here to stay.”

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