PARIS — Selectmen voted unanimously to keep 41 streetlights illuminated, following a public hearing Monday night at the Paris Fire Station. 

The hearing was attended by about 25 residents. A number of them voiced concern that the risk to public safety was not worth the minimal savings the town would realize by turning off the lights.

“Even though we haven’t had an incident doesn’t mean we aren’t a tinderbox waiting to happen if we turn the lights out,” said Mary Beth Caffey, a Paris Hill resident. 

The 2013-14 town budget eliminated 21 streetlights, for a savings of around $3,500, but voters restored the funding at the town meeting.

After the meeting, selectmen pursued a plan to shut off 41 streetlights that the Paris Police Department determined could be turned off without risking public safety.

Each streetlight costs between $120 and $294. The town would have saved $6,384 a year by shutting off all 41. Eleven of the streetlights slated for removal are on Paris Hill Road. 

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Paris Hill residents at the meeting said shutting off the lights would pose a considerable risk to public safety, particularly to people who walked or jogged along the road in the evening or early in the morning.

Charlie Little, a Paris Hill Road resident, suggested that the presence of the lights could have considerable bearing on Paris Hill’s low crime rate, one of the factors the police evaluated when determining what lights to turn off. 

Anne Stanley, a Lincoln Street resident, said there were other ways to affect savings in town, aside from jeopardizing public safety by turning off streetlights. 

Her assessment was shared by Lloyd “Skip” Herrick, the former Paris police chief and Oxford County sheriff.

“The fact of life is that we are a society that depends on a certain amount of illumination, certainly after dark,” Herrick said. 

If saving the amount of money it would take to keep the lights on affected the town that much, then it was in “real serious trouble,” he noted. 

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Board members thanked residents for the feedback and accepted that the amount of money saved might not be worth turning off the lights. 

Selectman Ryan Lorrain, who motioned to keep the lights on, told residents selectmen would not be doing their job if they didn’t pursue different cost-cutting ideas. 

“We’re bringing ideas forward, we are trying to do our jobs and we’re trying to save money,” Lorrain said. “Not all ideas that come up are the best ones, but we’re bringing them before the people.”

Selectman Sam Elliot agreed that the money that could be saved was a “minuscule amount” compared to the potential risk to public safety.

“The trade-off doesn’t begin to be worth it,” he said. 

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