Lyndale lighting proposal nixed

A residential lighting proposal that had dragged on for years and divided the Lyndale neighborhood is dead.

The City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee denied a pro-lighting petition on a voice vote Nov. 14. City Councilmembers Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) and Robert Lilligren (8th Ward) both represent parts of Lyndale, and both spoke against the project.

Ten residents spoke a public hearing; the vast majority opposed the lighting.

Niziolek said it was difficult to speak against the lighting. He had signed a petition in favor of the project. As a former crime-prevention specialist, he said he believed the lights would reduce crime.

"It disappoints my neighbors and my friends, as well as my wife," he said. "I value the process."

And the process, by most accounts, was flawed.

The city did not — and still does not — have a clear policy on how residents can request pedestrian lighting.

Lyndale residents began circulating a petition and got what they thought was the 65 percent support they needed to trigger City Council review. As the process moved forward, the Public Works Department notified all property owners of the property tax assessment needed to pay for the lights, roughly $2,500 for an average-sized lot.

The assessment notices brought out opponents. Some criticized the process, saying they never saw a petition. After contentious neighborhood meetings, those for and against the lights worked together to do a neighborhood-wide survey.

The survey got a 23 percent response and showed that more than half of respondents opposed the lighting. Niziolek said recalculation of the original petitioned showed it has less than 65 percent neighborhood support, because of the way some renters were counted.

"We created a divisive issue for the neighborhood," said Niziolek, who has repeatedly criticized the city process.

He said he is working to develop a coherent, consistent city policy.