Council discusses lighting, safety on Eighth Street
A section of Eighth Street could get a little lighter at night, but it won't yet because of new street lights.
The Baldwin City Council, on the advice of the public safety committee, decided to try trimming trees but did not make a decision on installing more street lights along what Baker University students have called a too dark section of Eighth Street.
"We'd like to follow through trimming the trees and see if that doesn't improve the lighting situation," Amy Cleavinger, council member and safety committee chair, said.
The decision came after a request by Baker University to install four street lights at the alleys along Eighth Street between High and Lincoln streets.
Zach Baumann, a Baker student, told the council at the Feb. 17 meeting that the section of Eighth Street is not well lit and Baker is concerned for student, as well as public, safety. He said there have been past incidents of female students being attacked in that area.
Baldwin Police Chief Mike McKenna said only one such incident had ever been reported to the police department.
Jared Cheek, a Baker student, told the council there have been incidents along that street, but that often they are only reported to Baker administration and not the police.
"We're just trying to prevent these incidents from happening," Cheek said. "It's a city problem as well as a student at Baker problem."
Utility Director Terry McKinney said the cost of installing just a light is about $300. Installing a light and a pole could cost as much as $1,000. Operating costs would be $3 to $5 per light a month. Baker previously said it would help cover the installation costs.
Council Member Ken Wagner said he thought Baldwin should do more than just trim the trees.
"It's important for the council to remember that these students, who are part of this community, came to this council two weeks ago and agreed to pick up the tab," Wagner said. "As a governing body, we must be responsive and proactive to this issue."
Council Member Todd Cohen said he agreed the city should trim the trees first to see if the cost of installing the lights could be avoided.
"It's our view that we don't need to do that (install lights). It's probably not the most effective step," Cohen said. "Our view was that lighting could help, but it's no guarantee."
He also encouraged safety education, like not walking alone, and other preventative measures.
Council Member Ted Brecheisen said he wanted to know if they were setting a precedence and if there would be similar requests in the future.
"We've got a lot of areas in town that are like this," he said.
Cheek said he agreed with the council's first step in the issue.
"We'd like to see the trees get trimmed, and if it helps, then we've saved a lot of money," he said. "We just hope nothing happens during that time."
Wagner said that was the reason the council should look at installing lights.
"He's got a point right there," he said. "Are we going to put $24 a month value on a lady getting raped?"
"But we have no proof anyone was actually assaulted there," Brecheisen said.
Cheek said he would take the issue to Baker's safety and security meeting, and find incidents of students being assaulted in the area, before bringing a report back to the council at the March 17 meeting.
In other business, the council:
- Met in executive session for 20 minutes for attorney client privilege. After executive session the council, in a 5-0 vote, approved to file action against the Baldwin Land Company and Jerry Donnelly for their portion of the total cost of deceleration lanes at Eighth Street and U.S. Highway 56 and rescind any previous action dealing with building permits.
Also after executive session, the council, in a 5-0 vote, approved to pay the legal defense for Mayor Ken Hayes and former City Administrator Larry Paine in the federal lawsuit filed by three Baldwin police officers and a former Baldwin police officer.
- Heard a report from ECO2 board members about business park development and ECO2.
- Heard an update from the Kansas Center for Community Economic Development on Baldwin's economic development.