CHICAGO (CBS) — Gangs are believed to be cutting the lights in Brighton Park — but a possible solution is an expensive one.
Fixing a block of lights that have been cut sets the city back about $1,000, and CBS 2 is told they just get cut again.
There’s a streetlight built to prevent that, but it doesn’t come cheap.
As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, the problem of cut wires is plaguing Brighton Park, according to 15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez.
In a light built to prevent this issue, the access door to its wiring is locked inside the pole.
It costs almost $40,000 to replace the problem lights with the locked lights.
That would mean $80,000-$100,000 for a block of them, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
“I spent $891K from menu modernizing lighting in ten blocks in Brighton Park in 2017,” Lopez said. “The average total cost of a modernized pole is $38,000.”
There’s no city money dedicated to replacing lights, and no county money either, according to Lopez.
Sharon O’Sullivan said she’s lived in the dark for months.
“It’s scary. I don’t usually stand out here right now,” O’Sullivan said.
She said if the new lights aren’t in the budget, something has to be done.
“I’d like to see them at least try to get them on and maybe seal up that bottom so that they can’t get into them,” O’Sullivan said.
That’s exactly what they’re doing. CBS 2 saw city crews fixing lights in other parts of the neighborhood Friday, with a police escort in tow. They put metal bands around the base, but O’Sullivan said they just fixed the lights on her block and they’re already out again.
“Maybe they should just start staking them out and having people get arrested for doing it,” O’Sullivan said.
CBS 2 reached out to state Sen. Tony Munoz, whose district overlaps with parts of this ward, to see how he’s addressing the issue and if there may be any state funding available.
There was no response tonight.
Earlier Friday there were calls about people cutting wires in the area. Lopez says police were alerted.
Chicago police said patrol units are currently paying special attention to those streets.