With the economic down-turn faced by our neighbours in the south, many American cities are reducing the number of streetlamps in order to bring down their operational costs.
[...] it is all the more remarkable that, in what appears to be a spreading trend, dozens of cities and towns across America from California and Oregon to Maine are contemplating significantly reducing the number of street lamps to lower their hefty electric bills. In some communities, utility companies have already torn posts from the ground. Faced with several million dollars in unpaid bills, Highland Park, Mich., has lost two-thirds of its lamps, whereas officials in Rockford, Ill., have extinguished as many as 2,300, or 16 percent of all the citys streetlights.
Municipal officials, mindful of the winter darkness enveloping residential neighborhoods, have vainly tried to relieve public anxiety. Denials that crime rates will rise are met with skepticism by the public, as are programs to encourage homeowners to install private security lamps or to "adopt a light" for a monthly fee. Street lighting is now at risk of being restricted, as it was in earlier ages, to residences and neighborhoods able to afford it.
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