Vandals damage newly installed bike lane lights
With nearly half of the newly installed Connective Corridor bike lane lights smashed or broken, officials from the Connective Corridor are asking the community to help deter future vandalism.
Of the 43 waist-high red lights, called bollards, dotting University Avenue, 19 were damaged as of Monday, said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Syracuse University’s director in the Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development. Each unit has a purchasing cost of $1,100 plus labor to install.
“Everyone values their aesthetic, they’re beautiful to look at, but going forward we’re going to be looking into changing the design,” Hartsock said.
SU’s Department of Public Safety and the Syracuse Police Department are investigating the vandalism. Hartsock said repairs to the units will cost less than the original installation, since not all units need to be replaced and the type of damage varies among units. Some units have broken glass lenses, but others that are damaged more severely will need to be completely replaced.
On Monday, Hartsock asked local business owners and residents via email and Facebook for help reporting and preventing vandalism. She said she received a number of supportive emails, including emails from downtown business owners offering to install video cameras.
Vandalism first began in May when two lights were broken, Hartsock said. She said the lights were turned off while construction was finished during the summer, and then more were broken after the area was relit in August. A Connective Corridor vandalism report from Oct. 4 identified 11 damaged lights, Hartsock said. At this time, the contractor has repaired four as part of its warranty obligation.
“The mindset of just vandalizing public property is just disturbing to me.”
David Castle, SU employee and downtown resident
DPS became involved in the vandalism investigation several weeks ago when a DPS officer found a broken light, although the act was not caught on video, said DPS Chief Tony Callisto.
After more lights were reported broken, Callisto was in contact with Hartsock again on Monday to discuss the vandalism investigation.
Callisto said this type of vandalism is typically a spontaneous act and sometimes a result of drinking alcohol.
The partners on the Connective Corridor project, which aims to revitalize and link the downtown area with SU, are working together to find a solution, Hartsock said. Partners include the city of Syracuse, SU, construction administration and inspection firm C&S Cos. and project engineers Barton & Loguidice.
Hartsock said a solution should be found within the next two weeks. Lights broken during the construction phase are part of the contractor’s responsibility. After construction is complete, the lights fall under the jurisdiction of the city as part of the complete streetscape.
The fixtures were designed by Tillett Lighting Design Inc., located in Brooklyn, in conjunction with Upstate: an interdisciplinary center for design, research and real estate, run through SU’s School of Architecture. The lights were designed with metal bases capable of withstanding heavy snow and snowplowing, Hartsock said.
Hartsock said she does not regret having the lights installed, but future lighting for the corridor will be more than 10 feet tall to prevent similar problems. Bollards that are part of the Connective Corridor construction on Genesee Street are currently wrapped in plastic and will not be lit until steps to prevent vandalism are taken.
David Castle, an instructional technology analyst for Core Infrastructure Services at SU and downtown resident, said it is upsetting to see the work of the Connective Corridor and local tax dollars go to waste. He said he thinks at some point, the bollards will need to be removed to prevent the cost of continually repairing them.
He said he felt so strongly about this that he wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in The Daily Orange on Sept. 24, asking community members to speak up if they saw the vandalism happening.
Said Castle: “The mindset of just vandalizing public property is just disturbing to me.”
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