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Parks After Dark: Balancing Safety, Efficiency, and Dark Skies

The issue of lighting in urban parks can be surprisingly contentious. One school of thought is that parks are supposed to offer a refuge within the city, a piece of nature untarnished by the glare of neon, light-emitting diodes, and halogen. Dark-sky advocates argue that while some parks might need more light than others, no park should contribute to worsening light pollution.

Environmental concerns, however, tend to be overshadowed by the fears of community members who think that the darkness will encourage illegal or unsafe activities in parks.

Civic Space Park, Phoenix. By Michael Ruiz.

How can park managers and landscape architects use lighting to increase usability and safety without negatively impacting the environment?  Safer Parks After Dark: New night-lighting methods help provide answers for dark sky advocates, an article originally published in the November 2011 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, explores this multifaceted issue and finds that economically feasible solutions can be achieved using new technology and careful planning.

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