Residents complain about city lights going out in downtown Chatt - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Residents complain about city lights going out in downtown Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

You expect city street lights to come on when the sun goes down. But that's not happening in some parts of Chattanooga, including some popular downtown areas, is pushing some residents to complain.

City administrators said they're aware these specific LED lights have a high defect rate. They've made repairs, but right now so many are needing fixed, it's tough to keep up with the cost.

READ MORE | 'Green' lighting company moves jobs from China to Chattanooga

One park in downtown Chattanooga is supposed to be well-lit, but nearly half of Main Terrain is in the dark.

"Almost half the lights, over a dozen of them were not working, and it was dark out," said Bill Bird.

Bird goes on morning jogs at Main Terrain before work, and before the sun comes up. He's taken to social media about the problem, and said it's a safety concern.

City park visitors like Rachel Lindsey agree.

"Especially being a girl, I think lights just give you protection," she said.

"I'm very cautious about that kind of stuff," said Molli Miller.

But the lighting issue is not limited to Main Terrain. LED lamps across the downtown area are not working.

Recently, 35 lamps went out in Coolidge Park.

"It's frustrating," Bird said. "What is our (tax) money really going to?"

"We've had a high rate of failure for these lights," said David Carmody, City of Chattanooga Deputy Chief Operating Officer.

In 2011, the city entered a $6 million dollar contract with Global Green Lighting. Five thousand LED lamps were installed on downtown streets.

Since then, the city reports that 14% of them have failed.

"When you're looking at 600-plus lights that have failed, that's quite a bit of money," Carmody said.

Each time a light goes out, Carmody said it costs an additional $225 to replace it.

That adds up to an extra $135,000.

"We're addressing those problems as they come up, and we're trying to find a solution moving forward," said Carmody.

"The reason the lights in Main Terrain park are not burning is solely the responsibility of Mayor Berke," said Don Lepard, owner of Smart City Management. "Even though Berke canceled our contract and we have no obligation to do so, we continue to pay the costs for repairing or replacing any light that does not work properly when we are informed of a problem." 

The city encourages people to call Chattanooga 311 to report any outages.

READ MORE | Berke cancels deal with Global Green Lighting

Bird said he'll continue posting on social media, hoping a permanent fix comes soon.

"I could call the city and complain to them, or I could put the message out and let everyone see it," said Bird. "And they can say oh yeah, I saw that too."

"It is a matter of integrity for me," added Lepard.

"I am doing the right thing. Mayor Berke is not. Chattanooga residents deserve to have the safety these lights provide. For purely political reasons, Berke chooses to let Mr. Bird run in the dark."

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