Concern over fewer street lights
Resident says she does not feel safe
By Angie Landsverk
A new Waupaca resident believes the city should bring back some of its street lights.
Jane Doolan says because of this, she does not feel safe or welcomed.
“I just moved here,” she said during the public input portion of the common council’s Dec. 5 meeting.
During the public input portion of council meetings, people may bring up topics not on the agenda.
Doolan recently moved here from Milwaukee.
She notices there are not many people walking in the city at night and asked the council if it sought public input before it decided to remove street lights throughout the city.
The council did not.
Last February, the council voted 7-3 to remove 92 street lights in the city.
The action results in an annual cost savings of about $24,000 for the city.
Steve Hackett, Paul Mayou, Eric Olson, Jillian Petersen, Dave Peterson, Scott Purchatzke and Chuck Whitman voted in favor of doing so.
Lori Chesnut, Paul Hagen and Alan Kjelland voted against it.
On the night of the vote, Hagen suggested the council wait to allow residents to comment on the idea.
Kjelland agreed with the idea.
Petersen is no longer on the council, as she did not seek re-election in April. Mary Phair now holds that council seat.
During last week’s council meeting, Doolan also asked if there has been an increase in crime since the street lights were removed.
Doolan said she is hearing Waupaca is not a safe place to live.
Since the council does not address topics brought up during public input, City Administrator Henry Veleker encouraged her to call City Hall, so she could talk to Justin Berrens, the city’s director of public works, about her concerns.
The city’s Street Lighting Policy allows property owners to request the installation or removal of street lights near their property.
Requests are to be submitted to the Public Works Department, which will then review the request and make a recommendation within 10 calendar days.
The department informs adjacent property owners of street lights proposed for installation, and they may submit comments in favor of or against the idea.
Decisions of the Public Works Department may be appealed to the common council when the city clerk’s office receives a written appeal with 10 calendar days of a Public Works Department decision.
Also brought up during the public input portion of the meeting was the fact members of the community are circulating a petition for direct legislation.
Hannah Butkiewicz said she is happy to hear the city has a new system in place for performance appraisals.
However, she said performance reviews are only as good as the follow-through on them.
The petition being circulated calls for greater accountability of those employed by the city or acting on behalf of it and its residents.
It also calls for the maintenance of an active and fair evaluation process for personnel and for a mechanism for citizens, staff or officials working on behalf of the city to voice concerns in the event of poor employee conduct.
In cases of verifiable evidence of poor conduct, the common council and supervisory staff would be asked to address it immediately and terminate the employee if state laws or civil codes of conduct were violated.