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City to install street lights in high-crime areas

ALBANY -- The Albany city commission tentatively voted Tuesday to fund the installation of new street lights in high crime areas throughout the city and in Riverfront Park.

Without discussion, the commission unanimously accepted staff's recommendation to put $34,895.60 worth of street lights four different locations throughout the city.

Spearheaded by Ward 3 Commissioner Morris Gurr, the ease at which the commission approved the measure was a welcomed relief for the outgoing commissioner.

"I came prepared to defend the idea and when it came around it sped right on through," he said. "I think these are well needed and will benefit the communities they are installed in."

Albany Police Chief John Proctor, who was tasked with putting together the plan, presented four high crime areas where additional lighting would be beneficial: Lakewood Subdivision in East Albany, Joe Malone Park in Central Albany, Gillespie Park in Central Albany and on Alice Street near South Madison Avenue in the southern part of the city.

City leaders also agreed with staff's recommendation to install additional lighting at Riverfront Park from the Riverquarium to Oglethorpe Boulevard.

The lights downtown will bridge a functionability gap with the new downtown camera system which had a hard time catching footage of would-be vandals at night because of the poor lighting conditions.

If formally adopted by resolution next week, the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission would begin to install the lights.

The move also provides bullet-resistant shielding on six lights at the Lakewood Subdivision because of WG&L officials say is "severe vandalism."

The price tag of the lights will be slightly higher than the $34,000 figure after they are installed as the city has to bear the cost of electricity consumption, but for Gurr, who will be leaving the commission next month, its worth the cost.

"This is like an early Christmas gift from the commission," he said. "One that we hope residents in these neighborhoods will benefit from."