Dear PoPville – Sherman Circle Getting Street Lights – Should It?

Sherman Circle, intersection of Illinois Avenue, Kansas Avenue, 7th Street, and Crittenden Street NW

Dear PoPville,

I just saw two workers putting little orange flags in the ground in Sherman Circle. They said they are going to install “21 street lights.” I’m not aware of any problems in Sherman Circle since the terrible homicide a couple of years ago, and I think Sherman Circle is pretty much perfect as it is, so I worry that it will look like a Christmas Tree after this is done. Does anybody know how bright the lights will be? How many other (traffic circle) parks around the city are lighted? I know there was demand for this a while back, but I spend a lot of time in Sherman Circle, and it doesn’t seem necessary anymore. I wonder what PoPville thinks?

24 Comment

  • I think the whole area could use some brighter lights at night – it’s pretty dim at night. I’d also love for Sherman Circle to get some of the “Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs. It can be a challenge getting across traffic in the morning with the dog.

  • I suppose they are going to have to dig up a lot of ground to make this happen. How long will it take, and will the public have access to the park during installation?

  • ledroittiger

    All sorts of crime in that hood necessitate better lighting.

  • anon. gardener

    Yay for lights! As the trees leaf out it gets very dark there at night. Muriel Bowser worked her butt off to get these lights installed. This will make our neighborhood even safer.

  • I think the reason there hasn’t been a lot of crime may be due to the fact that people avoid it at night because it is poorly lit. I live just a few blocks away, and I know I do. And it may in fact help with the pretty serious lack of pedestrian safety measures.

  • I definitely think the lights will be a big improvement!

  • The terrible homicide is exactly the reason the lights are being added. My understanding is that the lights were specifically requested in response – pretty sure that a whole range of local officials were involved in this. Plus I’m pretty sure the circle is in the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Anyway, clearly a long process to get this to happen…

    • Yes, all of what you say is true. I just hope the community didn’t overreact and suffer from buyer’s remorse now that they are getting what they wanted. These lights will probably restrict some of the open space there, so I hope it won’t impede throwing a football or kicking around a soccer ball.

      • Actually, the trees were put up years ago to stop kids from playing ball games there.
        The lights are needed.You can see people lurking in there later at night. The police watched the are pretty closely at first, but not so much now. The whole thing scares the crap out of my kids.
        The District put up a couple of floodlights across the street from the park after the shooting, but they don’t do too much to illuminate the area. The new ones will be in the park, so it’ll be a lot harder to hide out.
        Way to go, NPS!

  • so how many people need to be murdered before the OP agrees that lights are needed?

    • Huh? Following your logic, there should be floodlights in every location a murder has happened in this city. If there were repeated problems in the area, lights might make sense. But spending millions of dollars and changing the nature of the park in response to something that may have been an aberration might not be the best decision. Personally, I am a little concerned that the city will screw this up and ruin an otherwise lovely area of Petworth. I, too, visit the park often, have never any problems, and have never witnessed any. On the contrary, it’s a friendly neighborhood gathering place. Flooding with it light makes it seem as if this is an unsafe area, which, according to my experience, it is not.

      I don’t know whether lights are a good idea or not, but by claiming that one terrible crime justifies such a change, well, you can justify just about anything.

  • My wife and I walk on Kansas Ave and around the circle after dinner fairly often and we have neither witnessed nor been victims of any crime. I do, however, think that additional lighting will likely make the area safer.

    • Same here. I live a few blocks North on Hamilton, and frequently walk through the circle – I feel the same way.

      Lights are a welcome addition, as long as they are done properly.

  • As long as they keep clear of the root zone of the larger trees, I don’t see a problem with this.

  • I’ve often commented on how dark S. Circle is at night. I’m pleased to hear that lamps are being put in place, but 21 may be over-kill.

  • T

    It’s posts like this that give me nothing but sympathy for this city’s well-meaning public servants. People lobbied long and hard to get NPS to install lights in Sherman circle after the Godleski murder. I, for one, am relieved they are finally being installed. It is not a matter of “flood lights” as another commentator pointed out — street lamps can be installed tastefully (so they don’t resemble the lights of shame) and I, like everyone else, hope that will be the case here. But even if they aren’t, they will undoubtedly serve the common good. In the event that this area improves enough that they are no longer needed — great! Lights can always be removed. But if they prevent even one additional death, assault, or just allow residents to walk our park through the circle at night while feeling a *little bit* safer, then the ends have justified the means.

    n.b., I find it a bit chilling that their installation comes right around the time of the Godleski murder sentencing… i’ve been a bit out of the loop on that lately and would be interested in hearing the results, if anyone cares to share…

  • How can having more lights be a bad thing?

  • I have lived in this neighborhood since 1978 and I think the lights are a horrible idea. I live a half block from Sherman Circle and have not noticed anyone continuously “lurking” in the park. The flood lights following the murder in the park were a gross over reaction to a horrible, unfortunate incident. The “crime lights” blared into my house windows sometimes throughout the night. I have lived here and raised my children on this block, withstood the open air drug markets and the random gunfire and the most effective tool against crime has been investment in your community and neighbor-to-neighbor communication and involvement, and not just communicating with the neighbors that look exactly like you. My car was involved in a hit-and-run incident and an alert neighbor not only recorded the tag number and make of the car but left a note on my car with her telephone number incase I needed a witness and more information. Her involvement resulted in me getting my car fixed without penalty and being able to file an accurate police report. More lights and locks will not make your community safer. Involvement in your community and getting to know all of your neighbors will. When I was a student at American University years ago there was a rash of assaults one year. Not once did anyone ever suggest flooding the community with crime lights

    • I appreciate your perspective. Is the reason you don’t support lights in the circle because they shine directly into your home? I don’t think lights necessarily stop crime from happening but it can be somewhat of a deterrent if an area is well lit. I also think you are right when you speak about community involvement and neighbor-to-neighbor committment, which is one of the greatest assets for any community – for safety, for vibrancy, for community. Neighbors are (or should be) a good thing.

  • I live on Sherman Circle and think the lights are a great addition. I am not sure if people realize this, but at least once a month someone drives through the circle, or hits the curb while trying to drive through the circle, late at night. Folks speeding down Kansas or Illinois can’t even see that it is a circle bc the lighting is so poor (and they are going too fast). I also don’t think that lights will detract from the aesthetics of the circle in any way. I have a flood light directly outside my house and do not mind at all.

  • I just moved away from the area. I never had any problems, but I’m a male, and I know my girlfriend was a bit nervous about unlit areas, which I thought was reasonable. It’s hardly a center of criminal activity, but I think the lights will make people a lot more comfortable walking there at night, and that can never be a bad thing.

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