Let there be light — please.
A local politician is hoping to illuminate a safety issue in Howard Beach before it’s too late.
According to Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, a portion of the grounds behind St. Helen’s School, including the bike path, significantly lacks street lighting.
“After personally visiting the area, I am very concerned for the safety of students, pedestrians and cyclists who may use the area after dark,” said Goldfeder, who recently sent a letter to Commissioner of Transportation Maura McCarthy — urging her to take immediate action to fix the inadequate street lighting behind the school. “We need to do anything we can to ensure the safety of the school and the safety of the children. We have to give ourselves every opportunity to ensure that we’re protecting ourselves to the best of our ability.”
In December, the Catholic elementary school witnessed a late-night robbery, in which close to two dozen of the school’s brand new computers were stolen.
According to school officials, several doors had evidence of attempted forced entry, including the side doors closer to the bike path.
Soon after, the school and church installed flood lights around the buildings, said Principal Kathleen Bollinger.
“It’s actually bright enough now to sit outside the school at night and read. I know because I’ve done it,” Bollinger said.
Still, local leaders say the area immediately behind the school is too dark.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to walk there in the dark. You feel unsafe in terms of who might be lurking around the corner,” Bollinger said.
Now, according to Goldfeder, it’s time for city officials to take matters into their own hands.
“The city needs to take a proactive approach to make safety a top priority at this location,” he said. “[The burglary] really illustrated the point and showed that there was a serious problem. My goal is for [city officials] to come out, examine the area and make their own judgment as best as they can.”
Goldfeder urged the commissioner to erect lights along the Belt Parkway eastbound, which he said would provide more light to the bike path and a safer environment behind the school.
According to a spokesperson, the Department of Transportation plans to conduct a lighting survey in the area, although when it would take place was not specified.
“In general, any place where people congregate is worth lighting well,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10.