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"Leave a Light On" project aims to increase safety in one of Minneapolis' most poorly-lit neighborhoods

"Leave a Light On" project aims to increase safety in poorly-lit Minneapolis neighborhood
"Leave a Light On" project aims to increase safety in poorly-lit Minneapolis neighborhood 02:01

MINNEAPOLIS – Some Minneapolis neighbors are flipping the switch in the fight against crime.

The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood is notoriously dark. The city has a plan to fix it but it could take a few years. 

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association also has a plan to boost lighting, particularly for pedestrians, many of which are students from the nearby University of Minnesota campus.

"I try to stay indoors. If it's dark, then I don't go out," Marcy-Holmes resident Jen said.

She said crime has been an issue near her apartment. This past fall, she says a group of people broke into her vehicle.

"Then they've broken into my building several times because there's no lights around my building," she said.

Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association President Vic Thorstenson wants to change that.

"Lighting in Marcy-Holmes is just abysmal, especially as you get closer to Dinkytown," Thorstenson said.


He's encouraging neighbors to sign up for the "Leave a Light On" project. Funded by the neighborhood association, homeowners who add pedestrian lighting can receive up to $250 reimbursed. Lighting can be as simple and affordable as string lights, he said. Thorstenson said he bought his at Costco for less than $40.  

 "We don't even notice it on our electric bill," he said.

Many of the street lights in Marcy-Holmes are old and dim or cast too many shadows.

"We would like to light a couple entire blocks with it as a demonstration project to see how it works because we haven't found anywhere in the country where this has been tried," Thorstenson said.

Weston Chevalier thinks it's a good idea for the neighborhood. He too has experienced car break-ins.

"I think that would be really beneficial and I think homeowners in the neighborhood would really appreciate that," Chevalier said.

Mayor Jacob Frey committed $9 million over two years in his 2023-24 budget to improving lighting systems, specifically in Stevens Square, Loring Park, Como and Marcy-Holmes. The city plans to replace approximately 1,000 street lights with the funding, including about 300 in Marcy-Holmes and the U of M campus area, a city spokesperson said.

Residents should continue to call 311 to report any lighting concerns in their neighborhood.

More information about the Leave a Light On project can be found here.

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