Due to upcoming budget cuts, the City of Jyväskylä is intent on ruining the reputation it has built for itself as the City of Light. 1.9 million Euros of fiscal fat need to be trimmed off of an already lean cut of meat. The city leaders, in all of their wisdom, have decided that the logical place for a town located roughly at 62° north latitude to pinch pennies is the cost of outdoor lighting. Specifically, their bright idea is to cut back on street light maintenance costs by cutting down on street light maintenance. Clever!
I’m just wondering how the folks responsible for this decision happened to miss the fact that it is quite dark here for approximately three-fifths of the year. The streetlights assist in keeping pedestrians physically safe by increasing their visibility, which decreases their chances of being run down by a motor vehicle. The streetlights also seem to provide a psychological boost as well, since their orange glow is often the only light we see outdoors for several weeks every fall.
Another victim for the town planner’s budget-cutting hatchets is going to be the Jyväskylä – City of Light (Valo on Jyväskylässä) event. I guess this makes some kind of sense – if we arecutting back on street light maintenance, it is only logical that we would cut back on any new installation of outdoor lighting. As light bulbs burn out on lamp poles and City of Light installations from previous years throughout the town, the following self-congratulatory quote from the official City of Light website will gradually lose its zing: “Jyväskylä’s long-term and fruitful efforts as a developer of urban lighting have been acknowledged around the world.”
Jyväskylä – City of Burned Out Light Bulbs isn’t a very catchy title for celebration of urban lighting, but it does sound a lot better than “Jyväskylä – City of unmaintained parks and beaches – garbage can and flowerbed free since 2012” which is going to be our urban reality after the proposed cuts are implemented.
So be careful out there this winter walking on those poorly lit streets and don’t expect immediate assistance from the city if your block is plunged into eternal darkness. Might I suggest taking a bus rather than taking your chances strolling down on icy, unlit thoroughfare? Oh yeah, I forgot, they are planning on eliminating the student discount on monthly bus passes too. I guess we have some things to think about as the city council elections approach.