The historic Old North End, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Colorado Springs, got a pass when the city turned off streetlights in every other residential area earlier this year to save money, officials said today.
“While some of my constituents living in rougher neighborhoods have had their lights turned off, lights in the affluent Old North End are still burning bright,” Councilman Sean Paige said today in an e-mail. “That seems to indicate that a double standard exists.”
According to city e-mails, the historic-looking ornamental streetlights on Wood Avenue, Tejon Street north of Uintah Street and in Old Colorado City haven’t been deactivated.
City spokesman John Leavitt said those lights weren’t turned off because the city initially thought that residents and businesses in those areas were paying for their operation and maintenance.
But after a complaint and further investigation, the city realized that residents in the Old North End aren’t paying for the operation and maintenance of their lights, he said.
“It was determined that they should be treated like any other neighborhood,” Leavitt said, adding that streetlights in the Old North End soon will be deactivated.
“It was an oversight,” he said. “It was a mistake.”
The lights in Old Colorado City along the Colorado Avenue shopping district won’t be deactivated because businesses pay for their operation and maintenance, which is also the case in downtown Colorado Springs, he said.
Paige said people were wondering why all the lights in the Old North End were still on.
“I’d heard through the rumor mill that some streetlights weren’t turned off in town, so I started asking around,” he said this morning in a telephone interview.
“I had lunch with (Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte) early last week. I raised the issue with him, and he himself mentioned that he had taken a drive recently on the northside and was noticing how bright it was out there,” said Paige, who plans to raise the issue at today’s City Council meeting.
Leavitt said the city made a concerted effort to treat the entire city fairly.
“We started in the Broadmoor Bluffs area to turn off lights and fanned out from there because we very conscience of what the appearance could be,” he said.
“If we decided to start shutting off lights in the southeast portion of the city near Deerfield Hills or something like that, it would be horrible,” he said. “It would appear that we were targeting the less affluent areas, so we on purpose started in an area that we considered to be sort of affluent – the Broadmoor Bluffs area – and spread throughout the city in a patchwork way.”
The city has turned off about 10,000 of the estimated 24,500 streetlights in Colorado Springs, Leavitt said. The city plans to turn off about 1,100 more to meet a cost-saving goal of $1.2 million this year, he said.
About 520 streetlights have been turned back on under a streetlight adoption program, Leavitt said.