This project addresses safety and security needs through the installation of lighting amenities at prioritized park locations throughout the city. A secondary benefit is to encourage the use of key recreational areas (such as playgrounds, pavilions and trailheads) within parks through the curfew time of 10:00 p.m. The increased use helps deter undesirable behaviors and crime, which encourages further use.
Safety lighting in parks was initiated to address safety/security concerns within parks. The program aims to provide a variety of lighting products. All of the lights utilize energy-efficient LED technology and are "Dark Sky compliant". The great majority of lights to be installed are solar-powered with battery storage, which is the ideal solution for locations without 120-volt power. In locations with existing Austin Energy power poles, the Parks and Recreation Department works with Austin Energy to install 120-volt powered "Night Watchman" lights. In other situations, where 120-volt power is available but without Austin Energy power poles in the right location, an electric contractor is hired to install lighting.
The need for safety/security lighting in parks is prioritzed through a variety of sources, including ongoing public input from individual citizens, neighborhood group, and Parks and Recreation staff. The current expressed needs represent more than three years of engagement and funding. With a rapidly growing population, additional parks coming on line, and increased awareness of the program availability, we anticipate an indefinite need for this program.
Given much greater need than available funding, lighting locations are prioritized based upon a variety of factors, including:
Number of neighbors and/or park users supporting the improvement
Crime and incident reports
Cost of the improvements
In the summer of 2018, 31 light fixtures were installed in 18 parks throughout the city (16 zip codes). During 2019, we anticipate installing approximately 26 lights in 14 parks. During this current timeframe, an emphasis is being placed on the 78744 and 78745 zip codes due to a higher need in these locations.
The Safety Lighting in Parks project was initiated in FY 2017 with a commitment by City Council of $115,000 in ongoing annual funding from the General Fund. The City's FY 2019 funding will be leveraged with an additional $50,000 from the Austin Parks Foundation for lighting in the 78744 and 78745 zip codes, for a total of $165,000.