LEWISTON — Citing safety and crime concerns, councilors said they couldn’t back a plan to reduce streetlights in the more rural parts of the city.

“I may have my own opinions, but I’ve heard from many of my constituents on this,” Councilor Betty Dube said. “I understand the concerns about traffic and crime, about taking away lights in areas where people need them to walk.”

City staff marked 326 streetlights with bright orange spray-painted Os in June, signaling that they were due to be turned off and removed. It was part of an effort to reduce the number of streetlights, shaving about $48,000 off the budget.

It was part of an effort to manage Lewiston’s streetlights more efficiently. It would have created three streetlight zones.

In the busier, more dense downtown zone, the lights would be spaced about 220 feet apart. In the next, less-dense zone, lights would be about 440 feet apart. Lights in the third, more rural zone, would be maintained at intersections, dead ends, cul-de-sacs and on steep hills.

Residents in those rural areas began calling councilors to defend their lights. Councilor Nelson Peters said he heard from College Road residents worried about deer wandering across the road after dark. Councilor Denis Theriault said he heard from No Name Pond residents worried about increases in break-ins and other crimes. And Dube said he heard from Randall Road residents worried they wouldn’t be able to walk along their rural roads in the evenings.

Randall Road resident Mark White said he could see both sides.

“On the one hand, I want the budget savings,” he said. “But when it’s the light in front of my house, I don’t want to lose that.”

But White said some lights in other parts of the city could be removed without affecting neighborhoods.

Councilors agreed and directed Ian Houseal, the city’s energy czar, to refine the list of lights that would be removed, focusing on redundant light. Houseal said he would also look at more efficient light bulbs.

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