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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

New Marcy-Holmes program aims to brighten up streets

Students can now reach out to rental property owners to request better lighting in a program that would have property owners reimbursed for new lighting.
The+neighborhood+and+the+city+are+working+together+to+install+low-powered+string+lights+in+darker+areas.+
Image by Dean Tan
The neighborhood and the city are working together to install low-powered string lights in darker areas.

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA) started a program in January called “Leave a Light On,” with the goal to provide more street lighting for people walking in the neighborhood at night.

Leave a Light On offers to reimburse homeowners in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood for lighting on their front patios to increase lights on the streets and sidewalks. Home owners can apply online and get fully reimbursed for installing additional new lighting.

MHNA President Vic Thorstenson created the Leave a Light On campaign to increase the amount of lighting in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, specifically on sidewalks since most of the current lights are positioned over the streets.

“This is for the safety of people walking on sidewalks,” Thorstenson said. “Neighborhood groups pooled money together to create $250,000 to encourage property owners in Marcy-Holmes to put up lighting on their properties and we would reimburse them for that.”

Thorstenson said Marcy-Holmes has a poor street lighting plan because it is the oldest neighborhood in the city. The MHNA is working with the city as part of Leave a Light On to improve lighting on the sidewalks by installing low-powered string lights primarily on darker streets.

“There are very few homeowners in Marcy-Holmes because they are mostly college houses,” Thorstenson said. “The landlords, most of whom don’t live locally, have not paid much attention. It can help if tenants reach out to landlords and request string lights for their patios, and the landlord can get reimbursed.”

“I don’t feel safe walking home”

The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood is divided into two sections: Dinkytown, which is mostly populated by students, and Marcy-Holmes.

The difference between the two areas can be distinguished by the amount of lighting on the sidewalks. The sidewalks of Dinkytown are well-lit compared to Marcy-Holmes, which lacks a proper amount of street lighting. This creates a less safe environment, especially at night, according to some residents.

Celia Brokaw, a Marcy-Holmes resident and fourth-year student at the University of Minnesota, noticed an immediate shift from the lighting in Dinkytown on campus versus Marcy-Holmes off campus when walking home at night.

Brokaw lives on 11th Avenue and Sixth Street and said there is a three-block radius near her house that gets very dark at night.

“Walking home with no light feels dangerous, and no one is going to see if something were to happen to me,” Brokaw said. “One time, I was walking home by myself and across the street, I saw someone, so I crossed and he followed, and then I did it again, and he continued to follow me. I basically ran home after that.”

Brokaw said she even changed her class schedule to accommodate her safety walking home.

“I had the option to do a night class for an elective I wanted, but I decided not to do it because I didn’t feel safe walking home or even taking the bus home,” Brokaw said.

Sam Matuseski, a fourth-year student at the University living in Marcy-Holmes, said he also noticed a huge difference in the lighting on campus versus off campus.

“In general, on the U of M campus there is really good lighting, but off campus, the lighting gets spotty and sometimes you can’t see a few blocks ahead of you and who is around you,” Matuseski said.

Matuseski said he has lived both in Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes and noticed a big shift in his perception of safety while walking home at night when he moved further from campus.

“When I lived on University Avenue, walking home from the bar I felt pretty safe and not concerned because there is such good lighting,” Matuseski said. “Now living more off campus, I am more on edge for sure. There are no blue emergency lights and a lot less lighting in the area where I live.”

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