The Columbia City Council voted to direct staff to move forward on plans to replace almost 100 streetlights in downtown Columbia.
The city needed to replace the lights anyway for aesthetic and functionality reasons, but also decided to fold in an added layer of safety enhancements with lights that could have the brightness adjusted.
The city installed six of them in the winter to test, but interim Chief Geoff Jones said they didn’t have hard metrics on whether they deterred crime.
The Columbia Water and Light board told police they need to prove that the lights improve safety before they add more. The board had asked City Council to table the project until it sees that research.
They also had concerns about rates.
“The only thing that I can say is that I don’t think this is in the best interest of Water and Light rate payers because it’s a city issue and there are more than Water and Light rate payers that are involved in the city,” said board member Robert Hasheider at the meeting.
The Downtown Community Improvement District is contributing $30,000 in funding for the approximately $300,000 project.
CID Director Bob Hohenstein spoke in support of the lights, and said the enhanced lighting will curb crime and “problematic behavior.”
“There’s a reason that bars at their closing time turn on all the lights inside their establishment,” he said.
Council members voted unanimously to direct staff to move forward. They’re expected to be installed over the summer.