The spray painted markings on the pavement of Lynn Street Extension are hardly noticeable, but for Councillor Giovanni Recupero and neighbors of the side street that runs from Suffolk to Central Avenue, such markings are cause for celebration.
The markings indicate the spot where a street light will now be placed.
Seems like an odd cause to celebrate, but the heavily travelled street that has a preponderance for occasional violent crime has been dark for decades; not one street light adorns the popular cut-through between the forest of one-way streets. Recupero and neighbors contend that the darkness has attracted crime, prostitution, drug addicts and drug sellers to the quiet area, where most of the homes are well-kept and flowers adorn most every small front yard.
Put in context, maybe the street light is a little bit of a big deal.
“I think it’s a big deal, yeah,” said Recupero. “It took me three years to get a light here, but that’s just one. Look at how long this street is. Can you imagine how dark it gets here at night? There’s never been any light here as long as I can remember and it’s a real public safety problem. I’ve been fighting and fighting, but this is the people’s victory. They complained to me about this right after I was first elected. Why didn’t the City do anything? I don’t know. They told me they couldn’t. Now, suddenly, they can.”
The street light is critical, as shootings and violent episodes do happen in the darkness from time to time.
Last week, police arrested two youths who were carrying a gun and fired it as police closed in on them.
“It’s not like this street isn’t used,” Recupero said. “This is the way that people get up to Essex, Congress and Maverick Streets. It’s so dark that people are scared to walk there. They go around and they shouldn’t have to. The whole Lynn extension is dark and doesn’t have any lights. We’ve had shootings there recently and other crimes. Maybe this light will help slow down the crime here.”
The victory, however, is short lived for Recupero, who said his district has been allowed to decay over the last several years.
Potholes, more like craters, line parts of the street, and the same is true for Maverick Street and others.
On Suffolk Street, he points to sidewalks covered in tall grass and broken glass. Others are just overtaking by dirt and weeds, long since surrendered by the City to the elements.
Trash covers the area, as well as used condoms and drug needles.
A small flower bouquet memorial sits on one side of the street where a woman’s body was dumped last year.
“When that woman was dumped, I started calling for streetlights on Suffolk Avenue again,” Recupero said. “It took me eight weeks for them to get the lights on again. People like that come here because it’s dark and there are no lights or the lights don’t work.”
On Highland Street, he points to a crumbling sidewalk on the western side of the heavily-walked street.
“I’ve been here 35 years and I don’t know if I can remember them ever doing the sidewalk here or on Lynn Street extension,” he said. “Yet, this summer, they’re doing Gillooly Road for the second time in two years. This isn’t a slum over here. People keep their property up. Look around; there aren’t any crumbling houses or anything. But the City doesn’t keep its property up. These people pay taxes too and it’s not right.”
“It’s been like that for so long and I keep telling them about it,” he said. “You can go all over my district and it’s like this everywhere.”
Recupero said he is hoping to conduct a walking tour of his district with new City Manager Tom Ambrosino to show him the problems that could be easily fixed. Until that time, he said he will continue the fight.