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Is the Central Avenue business district in Jersey City stuck in the Dark Ages or has the Age of Enlightenment dawned?

Michael Yun, president of the Central Avenue Special Improvement District, firmly believes the three-quarter mile commercial strip has been left in the dark.

According to a survey completed by the merchant group earlier this month, 20 out of the 133 street lights along Central Avenue between Manhattan Avenue and North Street don't work, which is an improvement from March when 37 weren't working, Yun said.

The culprit, according to Yun: Public Service Electric & Gas, which bears responsibility for installing, maintaining and replacing the lights.

"They call themselves 'Public Service,' but I don't believe they are for public service," said Yun.

Displaying correspondence with the utility company that dates back five years, Yun added, "The major concern is public safety. Good light deters crime. When we complain we feel we complain to the wall."

Yun and David Diaz, executive director of the SID, pointed out last week covers to the base of street lights that were secured by electric tape. Wires from one missing street light were exposed on the sidewalk. But Richard Dwyer, PSE&G's public affairs manager, said his company is working hard to keep up with repairs and he's not without supporters.

"PSE&G has always been responsive to constituent complaints and has acted in a timely fashion to repair street lights that are out as well as repair poles that are damaged," said Jennifer Morrill, assistant director of the city's Neighborhood Improvement District, the city agency that monitors street light issues.

"Rich Dwyer has gone out with NID inspectors at night," Morrill added. "He has made himself completely accessible to our crews."

As far as Central Avenue goes, Dwyer said a new pole will be installed this week, and two damaged globes have been replaced and a third has been ordered.

"The last time I received a report from David Diaz...we went out and I believe all of the lights were fixed. That was about three weeks ago," Dwyer added.

A citywide survey completed in February 2006 showed that 450, or 4 percent, of the city's roughly 11,000 street lights weren't working, Morrill said.

"Maybe it's time for a new survey," she added.