A broken electrical cable has left the Cambridge Common without lighting since the summer, and Harvard students who regularly cross the park at night complained yesterday of increased security risks in an area long considered dangerous.
Cambridge public service officials said they have set no specific deadline for repairing the Common's lighting system, despite the large number of people who walk through the park after dark. Many residents of the Radcliffe Quad cut across the Common when traveling to and from the Yard or Harvard Square.
"It's a fairly flat area and if there are any lights on you can see around and feel fairly safe," said Lisa M. Hunter 85, one of the 10 Quad resident interviewed yesterday. But she said that when she missed a shuttle bus from South House to the Yard recently, the lack of lights on the walk down made her fear "there could be someone behind every tree."
Lights will be restored sometime before the winter, Nicholas Fernandez, assistant electrician for the City of Cambridge, said yesterday. The job will only take two weeks but no starting date has yet been set, he added.
The cable was broken over the summer when workmen accidentally damaged it while repairing a nearby sprinkler system. "It's difficult to locate the cable until it's too late." Fernandez said.
Part of the reason the cable broke is that Cambridge uses "direct-burial cables," which have a heavy outer covering but are not buried inside a conduit, Fernandez said.
Harvard uses the pipe-covered cables, but Fernandez said that because of the extra cost of the pipe-covered kind. Cambridge is not considering a switch.
City Councilor Francis H. Duehay '55 said he will press the council to take some action on the problem this week. "I'm very concerned," he said, adding, "I want lights on in the Common."