Lights Off? Marfa City Leaders Will Decide

By Camaron Abundes
NewsWest 9

MARFA- It's no secret Marfa, TX is known for it's lights, but right now it's the city's street lights that are causing a stir. City leaders want to offset the rising cost of electricity by shutting off 250 street lights around town. The move would save the city just under $50 thousand dollars a year. In 2008, City Mayor Dan Dunlap says energy cost have gone up by 33 percent, and it would make sense to power down the lights, but not everyone is sold on the switch.

"I've always had a street light in my front yard and it's always made me feel secure," said Marge Hughes who says she understand the city is in debt but wants city leaders to look for another solution,"The previous administration lefted them so strapped, they're nickeling and dimming to find anyway they can to produce some revenue. But I think it's very dangerous to turn the street lights off in this community."

Residents are split on the decision some say it will help cut down light pollution, and make the stars brighter, others say it will make things unsafe.

"They need to cut somewhere else," said Sheryl Calvert.

Despite some safety concerns Dunlap says the City's attorney and the Texas Municipal League, Marfa's insurance provider, have both given the green light, saying the plan will not be a major liability.

"The crime rate here is very low, and none of the studies we've seen show a correlation between crime and street lights," said Dunlap, "There is no law that requires we have the lights on, and there is no law that says we can't turn them off."

Residents will have the option to pay a little more on their utility bill to keep the street light on their block turned on.

The decision will be up to city council, next Thursday.