Marcy-Holmes residents gather to ‘light up the night’

by Mehgan Lee

The Panhellenic Council, the governing body for the University’s sororities, shed some light on tgreatest safety concern last week.

The council co-hosted the “U Light Up the Night Block Party” to increase awareness of desire for more low-level, or sidewalk, lighting in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.

Approximately 200 people attended the block party. During the event, Radio K provided music, free food and soda.

“It’s a chance for neighbors to come out and enjoy some food, meet each other and kick off the year on a safe note,” said Kat Baugher, the Panhellenic Council’s vice president for risk management.

Rebecca Long, a senior studying genetics and a Marcy-Holmes neighborhood resident, said she voiced her concerns about lighting in the neighborhood with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who also attended the event.

Lighting is “definitely an issue we should be looking at,” Rybak said.

The lack of low-level lighting in the neighborhood “is a concern for students walking home at night after class and for vehicular traffic,” Baugher said.

Several serious incidents have come from lack of lighting, she said. This includes robberies and muggings, students being followed to their doorsteps by strangers and drivers having accidents because they cannot see road signs or pedestrians, she said.

Baugher believes more lighting would help combat these incidents, she said.

Marcy Holmes neighborhood has low crime, but bad lighting detracts from the quality of life, said Gregory Hestness, University Police Chief and assistant vice president for the Department of Public Safety.

“If you’re uncomfortable about where you live because it’s too dark, that detracts from how you feel about where you live,” Hestness said.

There is currently a city moratorium on low-level lighting, said Minneapolis City Council member Paul Zerby.

The moratorium occurred after residents of Prospect Park sued the city when low-level lighting came to their neighborhood because it caused higher taxes for them, he said.

The city council plans to determine what percent of residents in a neighborhood must sign a petition to institute low-level lighting, he said.

While the moratorium exists, the Panhellenic Council is encouraging residents in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood to turn on outdoor lighting in front of their homes to help illuminate sidewalks.

Other hosts for the event included the University of Minnesota Police Department, Office of Student Affairs and Minnesota Student Association.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support from the community on this,” said Kendre Turonie, coordinator for Student and Community Relations in the Office for Student Affairs.