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Downtown lighting a concern for Sandwich merchants

Without shop window lights, area would be dark, city council told

The corner of Railroad Street and Main Street in downtown Sandwich.
The corner of Railroad Street and Main Street in downtown Sandwich.

Sandwich Alderman Kevin Kelleher asked fellow city council members Monday, Nov. 26, if anyone “had noticed how nice and dark our downtown was when they came down here.”

Others concurred with his comments, including Scott Francis, owner of Dojo Dynamics in downtown Sandwich.

Francis told council members he was not happy with the poor lighting downtown.

In response, one of the council members said they need to have city electricians look into the problem.

Mayor Rick Olson said part of the problem is a transformer for ComEd that supplies electricity throughout the city.

“There’s about three areas of town that are powerless,” he said.

Francis said ComEd has nothing to do with the street light problem.

“Those street lights have been going on and off for some time. I love this town. I often bring prospective business owners to town, but if this is done at night, it’s unsatisfactory. It’s sad, actually. It’s a very sad-looking downtown. If it wasn’t for lights in the windows, there really would be no lights downtown,” he said.

Francis said a bakery and office supply store were his neighbors when he came to the area.

“Now I’m surrounded by a liquor store and a bar,” he said.

He said his customers include small children and mothers who are walking down these sidewalks.

“And it’s getting dark real early,” he said.

He noted that they’re starting to hear cat calls and having smoke blowing in their faces as they walk to and from his business.

And Saturday morning, he said, his daughter stepped on a broken beer bottle on the sidewalk and punctured her shoe.

“I’ve been cleaning up broken beer bottles over here for weeks now. I try to be a neighborly person and not complain a lot, and I talk to the other business owners about it. Their defense is that there are no street lights, so they can’t get out there to see if there are any broken bottles,” he said.

Francis said he runs a 9 a.m. Saturday morning program and added that it could have been one of those children who was injured by the broken bottle.

“I really hope we can get these downtown lights fixed, because it’s a sad-looking downtown. I love this town. The city puts nice Christmas wreaths on the light poles and they’re not lit up and this is not ComEd’s fault,” he said.

Alderman Richard Robinson said the wreaths were just installed and he also noticed some of them were not lit. He said electric department officials told him they were having issues with some of the light poles, which is causing part of the lighting problem.

Another audience member noted that the street light in front of Francis’ business had been out for almost two years.

“Light is a good way to prevent crime, and we have a very dark downtown,” Francis said.

Olson said he would see that the lighting problem is looked into by the city’s electrical department.

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