The City Council approved the addition earlier this month, and officials later asked the power company to install 24 new street lights in the historic neighborhood.The new lights are high-pressure sodium lights, which emit brighter light than the old mercury vapor lights.
“They all work, and they look much better than they did before,” said Profile Mill Village resident Joseph Munster.
The village was once the company town for workers of the Profile Mill. It was home to generations of mill employees, some of whom continued to live there after it closed.
The brighter lights now line A, B, C and D streets, G and H avenues, and Alexandria Road. Alabama Power owns the fixtures and installed them; the city will have to pay to operate them. The cost to operate the new lights will be $2,534 per year, while the old lights cost $1,293 per year, said city planner Lynn Causey.
Police Chief Tommy Thompson said the new lights will create a sense of safety and help curb mischievous activity in the historic neighborhood. He asked the council to consider approving the change after some Mill Village residents said teenagers from other parts of the city were walking in groups through the neighborhood late at night.
“The more things you can see in the dark, the safer you feel,” Thompson said. “It’s just human nature.”
Munster said that though he hasn’t had a problem with crime, the perception of criminal activity in the village is pervasive.
“The perception is there because we have a lot of empty houses over there. We have a lot of owners who own the houses, but do not take care of the empty lots,” Munster said.
Munster said a bigger problem is the ongoing infrastructure issues in the village.The lights, he said, are an encouraging sign that the city is interested in improving the neighborhood.
“There is a community over there of people who are paying taxes and participating in the government process, but feel like they’re not getting some of the services that people in other neighborhoods are getting,” Munster said.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.