Peñitas, LUPE celebrate neighborhood’s street lighting

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Members of La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and Hidalgo County Precinct 3 gathered with residents of Colonia Salida Del Sol Phase 6 in Peñitas on Monday, April 1, to celebrate the lighting of their neighborhood.

Since its inception, the residents of Colonia Salida Del Sol Phase 6 had been shrouded in darkness every night given the lack of streetlights, an issue plaguing many colonias and neighborhoods in rural parts of the county.

LUPE became aware of the situation at Colonia Salida Del Sol Phase 6 after one of its residents, Monce Padilla, reached out via Facebook.

“Personally, I am really connected to this story because I’ve handled our social media for the last maybe like six years,” Sergio Trevino, who is one of LUPE’s community organizers, recalled. “The person who messaged the Facebook page once interacted with me directly. On Facebook, we shared a story about one of the other colonial victories that we’ve had, and Monce saw that.”

Thanks to LUPE’s help, street lights were installed at a neighborhood in Peñitas on Monday, April 1, 2024. (Courtesy Photo)

LUPE encourages residents to reach out and seek their assistance with their street lighting projects. While they are able to facilitate the process and lead people towards the available resources, it is the residents themselves who do most of the legwork in getting their streets well-lit.

“It was getting together with the neighbors, making meetings, things like that so that we can start the process of picking up the signatures in the neighborhood,” Padilla recalled. “We turned in our petition finally in May of last year.”

The county requires signatures from 75% of residents in the area. Padilla was able to gather signatures from 19 of the 20 households in her neighborhood. The lighting was eventually approved by Hidalgo County toward the end of the year.

Padilla, who has been a resident of Colonia Salida Del Sol Phase 6 for six years, said that the lack of lighting in her neighborhood was a safety hazard for residents in the area, especially children.

“The children were in danger because they had to wait for the buses outside in the dark and things like that,” Padilla recalled. “You couldn’t go outside to just take a walk. Kids couldn’t go outside to just play around outside and things like that because the cars that pass by won’t be able to see them. We were in the dark, we were in danger, and apart from that we were not able to enjoy our neighborhood.”

She recalled the first night that the streetlights were turned on and her daughter’s excitement at the realization that she and her neighbors would no longer be left in the dark.

“​​It was just so emotional. It was so exciting,” Padilla recalled. “My daughter was in the car jumping up and down so excited and full of joy. And then when we got closer, all the neighbors’ kids were already outside playing. The neighbors were walking. It was just something we couldn’t do before. That same night, everybody was out. It was amazing. It was a great feeling knowing that I was part of that process.”

A news release from Hidalgo County Pct. 3 Commissioner Everardo “Ever” Villarreal’s office described the installation of the street lights as a significant milestone for the community and a “successful collaboration between residents and local authorities.”

“Access to adequate lighting is essential for the safety and well-being of our residents,” Villarreal said in the news release. “The successful activation of these street lights is a testament to what can be achieved through partnership and community-driven initiatives.”