By July 4th, Main Street could have a complete set of street lamps, but not all the town councilors voted in support.
“About five years ago, we started replacing the decorative streetlights,” said Town Manager LaRon Garrett. “We have all but six replaced.”
The last six sit next to Highway 87 near the Sawmill Crossing and “a little south of that,” said Garrett and will cost $18,400. That cost includes one extra light. The money for the lights came from the contingency fund, said Garrett.
After a discussion, the council voted 4-3 to move money from the contingency fund to pay for the new lights and a couple of backups.
Garrett argued that the old lights posed a danger.
“Their mounting base is just a very thin sheet of metal,” said Garrett. “If you hit them hard, they fall over ... a few years ago a high wind tipped two over with their flags on them.”
The addition of the lights spurred questions from the council.
Steve Smith wondered if the town could buy three extra lights instead of just one.
“Is one enough or should we have three?” he said. “There’s no idea if these will remain in stock ... I think with the renewal of Main Street we don’t want to be put in the position of changing out one and then you don’t have matching lights to replace lights.”
Smith estimated it would cost $30,000 to have the six new and three reserve streetlights.
Councilor Jim Ferris didn’t think the lights needed replacing at all.
“I don’t know the number of times I’ve driven up and down Main Street and nothing jumped out at me (to) take away from the enjoyment and beauty of Main Street.”
Councilor Barbara Underwood reminisced on the fundraising done for the original lights.
“You could adopt a light for $1,000,” she said.
Councilor Suzy Tubbs-Avakian asked for clarification on where the lights would be placed.
Vice Mayor Janell Sterner asked for clarification on where the money would come from.
Councilor Chris Higgins spoke in practicalities.
“Forty of these lights were already purchased. That’s roughly like $100,000 at this time,” he said. “So $100,000 has already been put into the lights, we have $18,000 to finish them. One of the things with Main Street and the town is on completing (projects). I don’t see why we wouldn’t do this ... it’s not just an aesthetics issue. They are antiquated to the point of not serving part of their service.”
“They need to be replaced one way or the other,” he said. “The old lights are much more expensive to operate.”
Once Ferris understood the safety issue, he agreed to replace the streetlamps.
“If these are coming to be a public safety concern that changes things,” he said.
Ferris, Higgins, Smith and Underwood voted to replace the streetlights.
Tom Morrissey, Sterner and Tubbs-Avakian voted against the new lights.