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South Bend's solar

Mar 30, 2023

SOUTH BEND — Homeowners have about a week left to apply for discounted solar-powered lampposts through a program that aims to brighten South Bend neighborhoods.

Through the Lamppost Lighting Program, homeowners can buy lampposts that are easy to install and relatively cheap because of city subsidies, according to a press release.

Each lamppost costs $500 before city aid. But residents pay only $50 if they live in one of two lower-income areas targeted by the city because of their abundance of vacant lots and their real need for lighting. Those neighborhoods are on the northwest side, near Kennedy Park up to LaSalle Intermediate Academy, and on the southeast side, between Michigan and Miami Streets.

Homeowners outside those areas pay $250.

The deadline to apply is June 1. An application flyer and more information can be found at

On Tuesday morning, South Bend Mayor James Mueller stopped by a home on Fremont Street near the Far Northwest neighborhood, a targeted area, to help install one of the lampposts. Homeowner Roana Fenzau met Mueller out front and watched gleefully as the mayor twisted in a few final screws.

The 93-year-old woman was surrounded by reasons she needed more light in her front yard. Holding a cane between her legs, she sat in a white chair just above a few cement stairs that led from the sidewalk to a path outside her home's front door.

She's lived in the small brick home since 1970. She remembers she used to run up and down the stairs like it was nothing. Now she clings to the black metal railing with each step.

"I'm sort of wobbly," she said. "I've had many strokes, and I fell several times. I've been in the hospital five times this spring and last fall."

Not to mention her house was robbed this spring, she said. Someone stole her jewelry, including 19 of her rings. One was her wedding ring.

While Mueller spoke to the TV cameras, Fenzau gestured to the lamppost and shouted to her neighbor across the street: "You wanna buy one of these?" She hopes more people set them up to deter any crime and bad behavior.

Last year, homeowners installed 98 solar-powered lampposts, according to public works spokeswoman Cara Grabowski. More than 600 of the lights have gone up in neighborhoods since the program's inception.

"Residents have told us that they'd like to see more light in their neighborhoods," Mueller said. "When we're able to answer what the residents see as needs in the neighborhoods, that moves not just their individual home forward but the entire neighborhood."

Email city reporter Jordan Smith at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @jordantsmith09