West Side Lighting Project shines light on needs across Charleston

Project shines light on Charleston residents' needs
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Since Charleston Main Streets West Side Light Revitalization Project announced its master plan last month, the organization’s Executive Director Ric Cavender said there has been positive feedback.

“We identified really early on that the Elk City district with all the newly restored buildings and businesses that had come in, that at nighttime it’s still wasn’t welcoming because the lighting is so old,” he recalled Friday.

The organization raised nearly half a million dollars to replace 44 lampposts in Elk City and switch out the current lightbulbs with LED bulbs.

According to Cavender, the group is searching for an engineer for the project.

Cavender said since the start of the project, residents across the city have shown interest in upgrading the lights in their own neighborhoods.

Murtala Muhammad said he has lived in the Kanawha City neighborhood since the 1980s.

He said he has noticed a change in the way of life during the last decade.

“Life in Kanawha City is usually quiet, but there’s a problem with homeless people and drug problems,” he said. “You need to make sure you don’t have anyone out there that people could steal and go from there.”

He said he is unsure if upgrading lights across the city will make any significant changes but still takes pride in his neighborhood.

“This beats New York, Cleveland, L.A. and Atlanta,” he said. “It’s a cheaper place to live and people still say hello. They don’t even get out and do that.”

The city of Charleston said it is working on a plan to replace all city street lights with LED bulbs soon but a timeline was unavailable.

Cavender said the West Side’s light plan is expected to be completed by the end of next year.