Turn out the Lights, the Party’s Over

B. J. Watts

By: Ralph Edwards

On March 24, 2010, Dan Shaw of the Courier and Press has reported that the City Council of the City of Evansville is officially considering turning off the street lights to balance the 2011 budget. In Shaw’s article Council President B. J. Watts is quoted as saying,” If we can get rid of some of the street lights and save money, that’s what we should be doing”. All due respect to the honorable City Council President Watts, but there are basic services that need to be delivered to even profess to be a city.

Street lights are one of those services. Functional sewers are another as are roads free of potholes, and potable water that does not emerge from the tap looking like burgoo as some people on Cynthiana Road have been dealing with for years. Couple all of that with the fact that some of our public parks facilities are in disrepair, and a couple of public pools were never opened this summer. It is negligence like this that earned Evansville its place on MIT’s list of America’s 150 forgotten cities.

What on earth is going on in the City of Evansville that has deluded our City Council President, Watts, into a psychosis that rationalizes that it is okay to spend $128 Million on an Arena and $18 Million on 8 baseball fields, at a time when one section of town can’t drink the water, some public areas are neglected, and some south side citizens can’t flush the toilet without knowing that their excrement may show up in their front yard. Now with this new mystifying revelation of City Council President Watts regarding turning off the City street lights, our good citizens may be increasingly victimized by rising crime rate when the lights go out.

According to Shaw, Pat Keepes, city engineer, said the cost increase that comes in response to Vectren’s plan to raise the rates charged to customers for the use of electricity. Vectren is asking Indiana utility regulators to approve a rate increase that will charge an additional $12.50 a month to the “average” customer, defined as someone who uses 900 kilowatts a month. So is a street light an “average” customer? Will the citizens of Evansville be offered the option to “adopt a light” to keep the lights on so toes are not stubbed, cars are not lost, and crime is kept down.

A city without lights is a city in decline. A city without maintained parks is a city in decline. A city without working sewers is a city in decline. A city without potable water for all citizens is a city in decline. If the City of Evansville hopes to ever be a cosmopolitan city these basic services need to be something that its residents can count on. Failing to invest in infrastructure that enables the delivery of basic city services such as sewers, drinking water, public area maintenance, and now street lights is simply misappropriation of taxpayer money. It begs the question “is this reasonable governance?”

If City Council President Watts succeeds in his efforts to turn off the street lights to allegedly save inconsequential sums of money and the City Council agrees with him, MIT and others will continue to consider Evansville to be a forgotten city. If you turn out the lights, your party really will be over.

References: Voices from Forgotten Cities, Lorlene Hoyt and André Leroux http://web.mit.edu/dusp/dusp_extension_unsec/people/faculty/lhoyt/Hoyt_Leroux_FC.pdf


  1. This article makes so much sense. Evansville is spending itself into ruin on these projects. Yet still want to cut basic services this such a farce.

  2. Watts is a bad joke and a Administration puppet, and he
    will be defeated in the next Primary by a well-respected Westside Democrat.

  3. There are areas in Evansville where you can drive for a long time before realizing you have not turned on your lights. Other places, like the intersection of Walnut and Hwy 41, the lights are places so far away you cannot see the median of Hwy 41 when you are facing east and turning north onto the highway.

    The first Mayor Lloyd declared 1/2 the lights would be turned off or the city would not pay for them. The city didn’t pay and SIGECO turned them off until Mayor McDonald II was elected. I don’t recall any crime wave erupting during the years there were reduced street lights.

    WHo approves the installation of street lights at specific locations? Can anyone request one be put into the sidewalk in front of their house?

    There is some merit in Watts suggestion. Some areas could have reduced lighting without endangering the population. Look into it before slamming the door on a different viewpoint. Think about it, folks.

  4. The “Voices from Forgotten Cities” link is very good. I nearly had chills reading some of it because it is so close to what is happening in Evansville. I hope to see more related to the study. Fire Stations and street lights, not a good sign.

  5. Maybe they are waiting for all of the revenue to come in from the stadium so they can keep the lights on !!!! It is supposed to be the saving grace of evansville…..isn’t it ?

  6. Man! The city needs to shut off street lights? Think of that in terms of the consolidation issue. From the county’s perspective, it’s like having your healthy company being bought out by an ailing one. You’d never do it.

Comments are closed.