SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- More than 50 volunteers blanketed the streets of South Orange Thursday for Project Gaslight, aimed at identifying defective gaslamps -- reporting that 396, or 28 percent, of the villages 1,400 gaslights were not fully functional.
The chairwoman of the village's Public Safety Committee, Trustee Sheena Collum, who organized the event, called it a success.
“Obviously, that’s a lot of outages but the village will touch base with PSE&G tomorrow and we will keep the community posted about the updates,” Collum said.
All 21 zones of the village were covered, and the use of the new smartphone app SOConnect allowed the documentation to move swiftly.
“It was great that we had enough people volunteer to where we could go out and everyone would be done in one hour,” Collum said.
Volunteers were instructed to report any irregularities in the gaslights, even if just one of the light’s three mantles were out. Other various issues were also documented, such as broken pieces within the encased street lamps.
Brian Giles and Madeline Davis, both members of the Seton Hall ROTC group Pirate Battalion, reported at least 30 gaslight issues in their assigned area, the southeast section of town. Giles, who is in charge of community service for Pirate Battalion, said that 10 members of Pirate Battalion volunteered for Project Gaslight.
“On behalf of ROTC, we feel it’s important to give back to the village,” Giles said.
Some residents were surprised at the number of reported cases and relayed their concerns.
“I was taken aback that there are nearly 25 outages (along my route),” said Wilma van de Pol after she and her family had completed documenting the gaslights in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood where she lives. One gaslight in Tuxedo Park was completely dark, with the glass encasing missing.
“That’s been out since (Superstorm) Sandy,” van de Pol said. She added that she hopes this event will generate a swift response from PSE&G.
Of the volunteers, the Seton Hall community was well represented. Both the Student Government Association and ROTC acted as sponsors of the event.
“I thought this was a great partnership with Seton Hall and the village where darkness and public safety is a shared concern,” Collum said.
The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.