Mood brightens after 600 streetlights repaired in Springfield (MassLive)

Read the original story by Pete Goonan here.

SPRINGFIELD -- As urged by residents and local officials, Eversource stepped up its streetlight repair program in recent months, fixing more than 600 lights that had been leaving sections of the city in the dark.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and At-Large City Councilor Jesse Lederman were among local officials praising the public-private effort to improve safety in the city by significantly reducing the number of broken streetlights.

Lederman, a member of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Streetlight Working Group, said the group will continue to work with Eversource and residents to ensure streets and sidewalks are properly lit.

"Ensuring all of our streets lights are operational is important for public safety and neighborhood quality of life," Lederman said.

Eversource owns and maintains 14,263 municipal streetlights in Springfield, and an additional 1,870 lights that are billed to private businesses, said Priscilla Ress, a spokeswoman for Eversource.

The effort to dramatically reduce burned out lights grew out of a walking tour in the South End last winter led by officials from the city's Department of Health and Human Services and WalkBoston staff, officials said. Other participants included representatives of Way Finders and the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.

The issues were discussed with Eversource, and a concentrated effort by the utility reduced the number of broken street lights in the South End and other neighborhoods from more than 700 to under 100, said Catherine Ratte, a principal planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Eversource created an online "streetlight trouble tickets" system to pinpoint trouble areas not in the work request system. It received a deluge of forms from residents and reports from the city's Department of Public Works, Ress said.

"There were a lot of concerns from residents contacting city councilors and committee members for lights that had been out for extended periods of time because they were not reported to Eversource," Ress said.

Richard Walsh, Eversource's strategic account manager, said the utility is grateful to the planning commission and city for bringing the issue to its attention.

"We have a strong working partnership, and that's important when working together addressing this important public safety issue," Walsh said.

Sarno said he appreciates the follow-up efforts by all individuals involved in the collaboration.

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