Safety lighting in parks was initiated to address safety and security concerns within parks. All of the lights utilize energy-efficient LED technology and are "Dark Sky compliant." The majority of installed lights are solar-powered with battery storage, ideal for locations without 120-volt power. In locations with existing Austin Energy power poles, the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) works with Austin Energy to install 120-volt powered "Night Watchman" lights. In other situations where 120-volt power is available but without Austin Energy power poles in the right location, an electric contractor is hired to install lighting.
Requests for safety/security lighting in parks are gathered through a variety of sources, including ongoing public input from community members, neighborhood groups, and PARD staff. With a rapidly growing population, additional parks coming online, and increased awareness of the program, PARD anticipates an ongoing need for this program.
Given a greater need than available funding, lighting locations are prioritized based upon a variety of factors, including:
- Number of children served
- Number of people potentially benefiting (population density)
- Equity and parity factors such as the income of the service area and people of color served
- Park condition or previous investment
- The ability to leverage PARD partnerships
- Crime reports
- Non-lighting alternatives to resolve the safety/security concern
This project addresses safety and security needs through the installation of lights at prioritized park locations throughout the city. A secondary benefit is to encourage the use of key recreational areas (such as playgrounds, pavilions and trailheads) within parks through the curfew time of 10:00 PM. The increased use helps deter undesirable behaviors and crime, which encourages further use.
In the program’s first five years (FY 2017 – FY 2021), 118 lights have been installed in all 10 council districts. During this early phase of the program, an emphasis has been placed on the historically under-served portions of the city, particularly in the 78744 and 78745 zip codes. The program will install an additional 18 lights by the end of 2022.
The Safety Lighting in Parks Project was initiated in FY 2017 with a commitment by City Council of $115,000 in ongoing annual funding from the General Fund.
For more information, contact Patrick Beyer, PARD Project Coordinator, by email or at 512-974-9476.