Four new lights will be installed in Stallings Municipal Park in hopes of stopping vandals.
The town council unanimously voted Monday to spend more than $6,000 for the lights. Duke Energy estimates the monthly power charge will be about $70.
Town officials say the darkened areas of the park have been sites of vandalism, and in mid-August the park will lose its on-site caretaker. Cleveland Wheeler, who now lives in one of two houses the town owns on park property, will have to move Aug. 15 because the town plans to tear down the houses.
“We're having a serious issue in the park,” said Ed Deason, Stallings' code enforcement officer. “The police officers cannot see vandals in the park at night.”
Deason said the town has cleaned graffiti off the park's picnic shelter several times, and three weeks ago vandals ripped out the lights from the ceiling of the picnic shelter. Town officials also have had to ask people to leave the park at midnight and 1 a.m. The park closes at sunset.
“We just need some lighting so the park will be more visible to police officers,” Deason said.
The lights could be up in four to six weeks.
The town council has debated how the lights should look, recently rejecting a proposal for lights on wooden poles.
Some council members have said they were concerned the lights would be too close to Stallings Road, which is scheduled to be widened. The council's final decision stipulated that the lights must be at least 50 feet away from the center line of Stallings Road.
Mayor Lynda Paxton said the lights do offer “a little bit of a decorative effect.”
She said the town parks committee looked at more decorative lights, but the cost was much higher.
Deason said the town will rearrange the lights around the town's new band shell in the park. The lights will be added in the back, middle and front of the park.