No street lights near GVSU sex assaults? 'Somebody dropped the ball'

Ottawa County deputies are throwing everything at solving a recent crime spree in Allendale Township by Grand Valley State University.

ALLENDALE, MICH. - Ottawa County deputies are throwing everything they can at solving a recent crime spree in Allendale Township nearby Grand Valley State University.

Sheriff Gary Rosema told the WZZM 13 Watchdog team on Tuesday, Oct. 4,  that he is delegating many of his department's resources to catch the person or persons responsible for four sexual assaults of women near GVSU's campus in recent weeks.

"Because of the volume of people that live in a small area, we want to do our best that we can to identify who's creating havoc in the community," Rosema said.

MORE: Sexual assault victim says GVSU 'could be doing so much more'

EARLIER: 4th sexual assault reported near GVSU this semester

The sheriff told our investigative team he hopes to have the cases resolved in a matter of a couple of weeks.

At least two of the four sex assaults happened close to 48th Avenue in Allendale Township -- an area where there are no street lights.

There are street lights along Lake Michigan Drive, but not on 48th Avenue. That's prompting questions of why the township didn't put in lighting when sidewalks were installed.

A property manager who the street lights are absolutely necessary, but he believes the township should pay for it. He says someone dropped the ball because it should have been done a while ago.

"I think it would definitely be beneficial (to have lights), especially with all the sexual assaults that have been happening around campus," says Jessica Baker, a sophomore at GVSU. 

The stretch of 48th Avenue is of particular concern because of the reported assaults.

"One was along the sidewalk where somebody jumped out of the pushes," says Glenn Turek, managing partner of Meadows Crossing. 

Turek says his company paid for their own lights on every building in the complex, but he says more is needed on the public right-of-way. 

"When you build something and you don't have it well-lit, that's your responsibility to make sure that it's safe," Turek said. "(I'm) very, very concerned about our students and anyone who is walking along these sidewalks they deserve to be lit and safe as possible."

Now, Allendale Township is moving forward with a proposal to create a street light assessment district.  The township supervisor said the idea came about a year ago, but they've been waiting for Consumers Energy come up with a design.

"Somebody dropped the ball somewhere, I don't know who dropped the ball, but somebody's got to pick it up and start running with it," Turek said.

There's also a dispute over funding it. About 51 percent of property owners would have to agree to pay a fee for the process to move forward, according to a recent survey. The township recently sent out formal petitions to the property owners to see how much support the proposal gets. 

"I thought (it) was unfair, especially for properties like us we have our own sidewalk and we're also lighting it and the new sidewalk," Turek said.

The township foots the bill for the lights on Lake Michigan Drive. However, township leaders say that's meant to enhance the appearance of the area.

A Consumers Energy spokesman acknowledges there have been delays with the design -- he says that's because of recent increase in their workload, adding they should have a final design ready in the next two weeks.

WZZM tried to ask our questions face-to-face with Township Supervisor Jerry Alkema, but he told us he was not available for an on-camera interview until Thursday. 

(© 2016 WZZM)


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