In the dark is not where Dan Hardaway wants to run his Mattapan boutique, Final Touch with Class, one of fourteen businesses he said are cast in the shadows along Morton Street near the Morton Street MBTA station on the commuter rail.
It has been a two-year struggle for the Morton Street Board of Trade to get additional or stronger streetlights installed along the stretch of West Selden Street and Morton to Norfolk and Blue Hill avenues, yet Hardaway says not much has come of it.
"Since the start of our committee this issue has been on our radar," said Hardaway, executive director of MSBT. "Thousands of cars pass through here everyday, but not many of them pull over. Why? Because they don't feel safe to do so."
"And in the dark it is not safe," continued Hardaway. "Anything can happen from getting hit by a car while trying to cross that four-lane highway to getting mugged on that shadowy bridge. These lights are necessary to make people feel safe and comfortable in Mattapan."
After numerous meetings with NSTAR, which owns the light posts, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the road and must request the installation, Hardaway said the matter remains at a standstill, though good intentions have been expressed.
DCR spokeswoman Wendy Fox confirmed the department is currently examining the Morton Street area and hopes to begin installations over the next couple of weeks. "This is a joint effort with us and on the part of NSTAR," Fox said. "We own the parkway, but they own the lights so once we complete an assessment of what the Mattapan community needs, we will meet with NSTAR and get this project moving along."
"This is definitely an issue of high importance. The residents need this," added NSTAR spokesman, Michael Durand. "We are happy to meet with DCR anytime on this matter."
The project has gained the support of community leaders such as state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry and City Councilor Charles Yancey who said more lights invite more community investment, comfort and safety.
"Mattapan is a great neighborhood with a lot to offer, but not many people can see that when they are afraid to come through," said Forry. "As we are working to restore this community, additional lights is a big piece in making people feel safe."
"Once we get these lights up it will be welcoming for those who want to stroll through the community enjoying restaurants and shopping and riding the commuter rail," added Yancey, "it will lessen the fear and encourage the growth of the community."