Thursday, January 03, 2008
THE LAWSON FILE: YOU THINK THEY GIVE A DAMN?
It's a small matter on the scale of things for some. It's life and death for others.
Residents of an East El Paso neighborhood have complained for a long time about the like of lightening in the area. They finally won that battle back in April. Well, sort of.
Even though the city approved more street lights and even though more street lights were installed, some never got turned on.
The neighborhood complained and got the usual run around from the electric company.
They're on now, but too late to save the life of Hortencia Navarro, 77, who was struck by a car on the dark street and killed the night after Christmas. Eighty-five-year-old Jose Gonzalez was seriously injured.
Apparently that got the electric company's attention and they got the lights on the next day.
This is not some isolated issue, but is symptomatic of the failure of city leaders and the like to take neighborhood complaints seriously. They've got "bigger" things on their minds.
But it is important to the citizens of these neighborhoods.
Take the 9500 block of Montwood Drive also in East El Paso. According to residents, at nighttime, it's an accident waiting to happen.
"You can't see that there's a curve coming up. We live here and... it creeps up on us. People that don't live by here, that rarely come by here, you know, the curve's going to catch up on them. There's no light or anything for them to see," Alfredo Lopez, of east El Paso told the local TV news.
"It's getting worse and worse. We don't have any lighting at all. Traffic is too fast, you know, and we need something to be done by the city and they haven't done anything," added Vidal Santivanez, of east El Paso.
Maybe they need to get somebody killed?
And you wonder why people get ticked off about tax increases and property tax assessments. You know its not always because people don't want to pay taxes, often its because they'd like to see their tax money being spent on their basic needs. Street lights and public safety are the responsibility of the local government. So is the death of a 77 year old woman.
The following is from the El Paso Times.
Lack of lights blamed for fatality
Residents of an East El Paso neighborhood believe a pedestrian fatality last week may have been prevented if a section of Pendale Drive had better lighting and measures to help slow traffic.
Dark roadways were a concern for the Las Palmas Neighborhood Association when it won approval in April 2007 from the city to have 18 residential street lights, worth $23,800, added in their area.
The project included a light at the intersection of Pendale Drive and Cedar Oak Drive, said Las Palmas Neighborhood Association president Laura Rivera.
But Rivera said the light and several others installed in the neighborhood had not been turned on and for weeks her group had asked the El Paso Electric Co. why those lights remained dark.
Eastridge/Mid-Valley city Rep. "Steve Ortega got the guy from the electric company on the phone with me and the guy kept telling us they were on," she said. "But they were not on yet and we told him they were not on."
At about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, Hortencia Navarro, 77, was struck and killed by a vehicle as she tried to cross Pendale Drive near Jennifer Drive. Jose Gonzalez, an 85-year-old man walking with Navarro, was treated at Thomason Hospital for a broken leg.
Police investigators said the pair did not use a crosswalk. Speed and alcohol were not factors in the collision and the driver of the vehicle was not charged in the incident.
The following evening, Rivera said, the street light at the intersection of Pendale Drive and Cedar Oak Drive illuminated the roadway.
"I felt very angry about that," she said, adding that Pendale continues to be a hazardous roadway.
El Paso Electric Co. officials said the light at Pendale Drive and Cedar Oak Drive was first turned on Aug. 30.
Teresa Souza, spokeswoman for the utility, said El Paso Electric did not receive reports from customers that the light was out.
But one day after the accident, the light was changed, Souza said. She could not explain what prompted the change.
Several more neighborhood associations in East El Paso said improving lighting on residential streets should be a greater priority for the city.
Edgemere Boulevard and Rich Beem Drive in far East El Paso are dangerously dark streets that are unsafe for pedestrians and need attention, said Colleen Lewis, president of Las Tierras Neighborhood Association.
"Lighting is such an issue all over the Tierras and something should be done about it soon," she said. "To me, (street) lighting is a necessity and not an option or a luxury."
Lewis said improved lighting could make residents feel safe from the threat of vehicle burglars and thefts and would help boost the number of pedestrians in the neighborhood.
The Cielo Vista Neighborhood Association made better illumination of Hawkins Boulevard a focus in 2007 and received $50,000 worth of conduits and base structures for additional street lighting.
Residents expect to see those lights on in 2008.
Rivera believes additional lighting and perhaps a traffic signal or stop sign at the intersection of Pendale Drive and Cedar Oak Drive could improve the roadway, which has a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour and leads many motorists to Interstate 10.
Now, just three street lights illuminate the curved .8 miles of Pendale Drive that runs from George Dieter Drive and Rojas Drive.
Still, other street lights that have been installed in the Las Palmas neighborhood remain off, Rivas said.