Staff file photo / Wilson Road is seen at dusk in this file photo from June 2019.

Rossville resident David Roden has dreamed of getting street lights up on Wilson Road for years, and set a deadline of Oct. 31. But due to some citizen pushback and protocol roadblocks, that deadline came and went.

Now, he says, it's time to regroup.

"We're not quitting, but we're looking for a new direction," Roden said last week.

The 1.7-mile stretch of narrow roadway poses a hazard for pedestrians, who have no choice but to walk in the street since there are no sidewalks, said Roden. Once the sun goes down, the darkened street becomes increasingly more dangerous, with motorists' sight further obstructed by the blind curves and hills.

This summer, the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group, which Roden heads, proposed a special tax district covering Wilson Road from its intersection with Happy Valley Road to the state line. The flat-rate tax was to affect 1,095 parcel owners and was estimated to cost about $4 per parcel per year.

The group planned to attach 33 lights to existing EPB power-line poles and use the new tax to cover the lights' roughly $4,000 a year electric bill.

They later learned that per EPB regulations, the project needed to be approved and funded through the county government, said county spokesperson Joe Legge. The county does not fund street lights anywhere else, Legge has said previously.

In light of that — and with a few residents who were in favor of the lights but disagreed with the tax — the idea for a sponsorship program sprouted, putting the cost only on those who chose to support it.

Again the group was thwarted. EPB required a $20,000 deposit, Roden explained, and even though they had one sponsor who agreed to match $10,000 in other donations, the neighborhood group could not gather enough support in time to meet its self-imposed end-of-October deadline.

Roden is understandably disappointed as he heads onto Wilson Road each night. But he is not hopeless.

"This is too good of a project for our community to let go," he said. "We have to get together to rethink what we can do better this time."

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