Lights are shining in the neighborhood.
The city, in partnership with Tampa Electric Co., has installed 127 new streetlights throughout Sulphur Springs. In addition, tree branches that covered existing streetlights have been trimmed.
The work was part of the city’s “Bright Lights, Safe Nights” initiative announced in October. During the next five years 8,400 streetlights will be added in Tampa’s neighborhoods. The goal is to make residents feel safer and criminals less comfortable hanging out on streets, dealing drugs or committing other unlawful acts.
Last week Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Electric Co. President Gordon Gillette rode a bucket-truck arm to the top of the last streetlight pole recently installed in Sulphur Springs. Once aloft they cut a ribbon, signifying the project’s completion.
About 20 neighborhood residents, city employees, Tampa police officers, and city council members Frank Reddick and Lisa Montelione attended the brief ceremony on Nedro Drive.
“This is another milestone in what happens here in Sulphur Springs,” said Joseph Robinson, president of the Sulphur Springs Action League. “It’s going to make a difference. People will start coming out in the evenings and maybe walking.”
Buckhorn singled out a Sulphur Springs’ couple, Curtis and Kay Simmons, and their newborn daughter, Madison, as the reason the city is doing this project.
“Baby Madison is now going to grow up in a safer environment,” the mayor said.
He also spoke of the city’s Nehemiah Project, which entails tearing down 51 abandoned or derelict homes in Sulphur Springs. “This is a good day,” Buckhorn said. “Sulphur Springs is alive. It’s coming back.”
The Simmons said they were pleased to have the additional streetlight on Nedro, which they described as a quiet street. They want to see it stay that way, and more lighting will help.
“It’s pretty dark out here without it,” Kay Simmons said.
Sulphur Springs is the first neighborhood to get new lights and tree trimmings. The city and TECO next go to the Jackson Heights area of East Tampa.
City leaders plan to spend $2.2 million on the five-year project. Each year a citywide streetlight inventory will be done. When the entire project is completed, Tampa officials say, overall lighting in the city will have increased about 30 percent.