Light walk helps identify trouble spots in South Orange
Members of the Student Government Association, Village Liaisons, South Orange Police Department and representatives of the Village of South Orange participated in “The Light Walk” on Oct. 21, a project which helped identify problem areas throughout the Village of South Orange.
“The Light Walk’s purpose was to bring awareness to lighting issues and other safety concerns in areas that are most frequented by students and also help both Seton Hall administrators and township officials see the issue through the eyes of a student,” SGA President Melisa Boege said.
Members identified a lack of lighting both by homes and gas lights on the streets as being a key problem.
“It’s unbelievable how many houses do not have their porch lights on. I will say that over and over again,” Michael Goldberg, a member of the South Orange Board of Trustees, said.
Gary Christie, vice president of Public Safety, said the streets would be much brighter through the use of porch and motion sensor lights.
“The town itself wants to start an initiative to have residents keep their porch lights on,” Boege said. “Even something as simple as that would help (in making the streets brighter).”
According to Boege, the walk was not open to students in order to keep the group size small.
“With all of the departments and offices that we hoped to have representatives from, it already looked to be a good number of people,” Boege said.
Students who heard about the walk felt that it was a positive initiative.
“I think the walk was a good idea,” freshmen Amanda Kozlowski said. “But they probably should have made the student body more aware.”
Boege did say that students input played a role in deciding what route they should walk.
The walk started out of Wilden Gate, which, according to Christie, is where most of the robberies involving Seton Hall students occur.
“Wilden Gate is off the beaten path,” Christie said. “But probably the biggest reason (for the robberies) is because so many students come out of that gate.”
When it comes to lighting South Orange, not all problems can be fixed, according to members of the town.
For example, the site of the double armed robbery in the beginning of the semester, Grove Park, will remain dark.
“The goal is not to light the parks where they become inviting,” Village President Doug Newman said. “The police are trying to enforce the law that these parks are closed at night.”
While all those present at the walk decided that extra lighting would aid in the safety of the town, they agreed that students have to want to be safe as well.
“One thing that we’ve definitely tried to promote to students is the idea of personal safety,” Kelsey Coolidge of Village Liaisons said.
South Orange police Chief James Chelel agreed with Coolidge’s statement.
He also suggested that all students should always carry their cell phones when they are out.
“Safety must come from a community that looks and feels safe as well as is safe,” Kozlowski said.
Boege did not want to comment on specific plans until she meets with Coolidge to discuss her plans for Village Liaisons.
“I view the walk as a starting point,” Boege said. “There are a number of ideas I would like to pursue that came out of the walk, and my hope is that SGA and Village Liaisons can continue to work together to build off of this project.”
Ashley Duvall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.