Unlit Northeast Baltimore Alley Worries Residents


January 17, 2010|By Liz F. Kay

The problem:: An alley in Northeast Baltimore lacks streetlights.

The back story:: Alverta Furman and her daughter, Mary, have been calling Watchdog for months about the lack of streetlights in the alley behind their home in the 5300 block of Catalpha Road, in the Harford-Echodale-Perring Parkway community.

Without the lights, they say, they have been the victims of property crimes such as theft. Alverta Furman said her car's license plates were stolen in November, and someone also took her copper gutters.

And they've had problems with illegal dumping, she said - another problem that they blame on the lack of lights.

The alley is pitch-black at night, the Furmans say, while other alleys in their neighborhood are well-lit.

Watchdog checked out the alley and noted that it also is not completely paved. Mary Furman said half of it is covered with blacktop, at least as far as their house.

Watchdog contacted Baltimore's Department of Transportation, which maintains streetlights throughout the city.

Transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said the alley behind the 5300 block of Catalpha Road may be what's known as a "paper" alley - one that's designated in city records but not fully improved or constructed. Under normal conditions, those alleys are maintained by adjacent property owners, she said.

"We are not aware of any paper alleys at this time that do not have lighting," Barnes said.

However, she said Transportation's maintenance crews "will look at it and determine in fact if lighting is needed."

Barnes said that though owners are responsible for paper alleys, the city keeps an eye on all roadways. "We make sure that all areas that have a high number of residents or pedestrians are well-lit," she said.

Safety is the top concern. "If people do have an area that is underlit or may need lighting ... we will do what we can to make sure the neighborhood is well-lit, for safety purposes," Barnes said. Some neighborhoods may require brighter bulbs, for example.

But Transportation must also take into account the wishes of other neighbors - some of whom may appreciate the current dim conditions, she said.

"We work with the community, and we try as hard as we can to make everybody happy," Barnes said.

Who can fix this:: Richard Hooper, chief of maintenance for the city Department of Transportation, 410-396-1686. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

- Liz F. Kay

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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