MERRILLVILLE | If Merrillville decides to reconnect streetlights in town, it may not have a major impact on crime, Police Chief Joseph Petruch said.
In 2009, the Town Council decided to shut off more than 300 streetlights on main roads in town to reduce Merrillville's streetlight bill by about $3,000 each month.
Councilman Shawn Pettit said he has fielded recent complaints from residents asking if power can be returned to some lamps to create safer streets.
But Petruch said he hasn't received complaints about the streetlight situation in Merrillville.
Returning power to lamps disconnected in 2009 wouldn't become a major crime deterrent, he said. The majority of burglaries reported in town occur during the day while residents are at work, Petruch said.
If funding is available, Petruch said he would support returning power to streetlights at intersections and other areas to prevent traffic accidents.
Town leaders have discussed multiple options to address the situation, including turning on more lights or changing the configuration of which lights are not operating.
Town Manager Bruce Spires said changing the arrangement of which lights are off wouldn't be feasible.
"It's not that easy," Spires said.
When Merrillville disconnected lamps in 2009, officials created a list of which lights would be turned off and provided it to NIPSCO.
Spires said the process of disconnecting streetlights involves "a lot of electrical work," and it took about two to three weeks to complete in 2009.
If the town were to make any changes to its streetlights, returning power to the lamps shut off in 2009 would be the best option, Spires said.
He said Merrillville leaders will examine the town's financial situation in 2014 to decide about raises for all town employees except elected officials.
Depending on the available funding after raises are provided, Merrillville could look at reconnecting some streetlights, Spires said.