Stay in the Loop

Dark Lights Will Be Lit Again Soon Thanks To Block Club

When cyclists and pedestrians started noticing street lights going dark along West River Parkway last week, a few of them reached out to a group they knew would take action.

The North Loop Safety Block Club, with their bright orange shirts, took a roll of blue tape and started marking the dark lights last Friday night.

“We were actually quite surprised,” said block club founder Aileen Johnson, “because we marked more than 80 lights between the Plymouth Avenue bridge all the way down to Owamni.”

From there, Aileen contacted council member Michael Rainville who urged them to file a 311 report. And within days, she received a phone call from Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto.

“The team there at Park & Rec found the source of the problem,” she said. “The transformer was out and they said Xcel Energy was going to fix it in just over one week.”

With that situation now being taken care of, the safety block club is planning to extend its “Lights On” initiative to city streets in the North Loop tonight, looking for other outages to mark up with their blue tape, while other blocks clubs in the city will do the same.

Council member Rainville joined the club members on the Stone Arch bridge last Saturday night and marked nine dark street lights there.

“When we were walking and taping up the lamp posts, we were stopped by many women walking dogs, saying how concerned they were about the darkness,” Aileen said. “This just drives home the point about being neighborly, talking about what’s going on and looking for people that like to help and will act on that for the good of the neighborhood.”

The club members are out on Friday nights each week now, but would be interested in doing Saturday night walks too if more volunteers would sign up. If you’re interested, you can write to Aileen at

“We’re motivated by love for our city and for our neighborhood,” she said. “We’re very optimistic about our future.”

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer

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