New proposal could turn off the lights in Northampton

Local residents are worried about safety

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Northampton’s Planning Department wants businesses to turn off lights in parking lots at night to save energy and reduce light pollution.

Residents, like Jennifer Palmer, are worried about safety. “I think the lights make me feel safer, mostly because of cars. There are streets that aren’t very well lit and cars don’t always see pedestrians,” she said.

Earlier this year a thief stole airbags out of cars at the Honda dealership on King Street, which is one of the businesses that would have to turn off their lights at night if the proposal passes.

Ryan O’Donnell, a Northampton City Councilor told 22News only certain businesses with specific outdoor lighting would be impacted by the proposal, which doesn’t include lights inside businesses or on public streets.

“This is site lighting, so its mostly outdoor lighting and it wouldn’t just apply automatically to all businesses; it would be for new businesses or if existing businesses updated their lighting fixtures,” he said.

O’Donnel says the City Council won’t make a decision without talking to businesses and residents first.

Elena Volpe works at Smith College, and says if the proposal were to pass, she’d be concerned about the impact on Northampton’s college students. “I think students are much more aware of safety factors and increased risks, but they want to go out at night, they want to have fun, and they should feel safe,” she said.

A series of studies in Britain found 20 percent more crime occurs in dark areas compared to light areas.

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