Discussion about reducing the number of street lights.
ACTION: Council guidance to staff is anticipated.
The Council approved a $20,000 expense savings in the 2010-2011 budget process that would be accomplished through street light reduction. In order to accomplish this savings, Falmouth would have to eliminate 134 of the 614 total street lights in town. We identified all of the Townâ€™s street lights and developed a map as well as a street light layer on our GIS system. We identified 174 lights for elimination through visiting every light at night and studying the map. On May 10, 2010, we publicized the Townâ€™s intentions to eliminate street lights by placing signs on utility poles associated with street lights proposed for elimination. We also posted information on the website.
There was a well attended Public Hearing on May 24. Between May 10 and May 24, over 70 residents contacted the Town to express opinion about one third of the lights proposed for elimination. Though we did hear some responses in favor of the the street light reduction plan, the majority of the responses were in opposition to specific lights and/or the entire plan. At the public hearing, 39 out of 42 meeting participants opposed the elimination of specific lights and/or the entire plan. About half of those who spoke were part of the 70 residents that had already contacted the Town.
After the Public Hearing, we heard from additional residents voicing their concerns about eliminating their light. Staff conducted a second night-time site visit inspection of all the street lights that had received resident comments and prepared a plan with fewer lights to be eliminated. At the June 21 Council Meeting, staff proposed to eliminate 102 street lights that had not received any public comment. The Council voted 4 to 3 against eliminating any lights at that time. After the June 21 meeting, more residents contacted the Town concerning the elimination of lights that were still on the elimination list. Currently, we have 108 lights on the elimination list, of which there are only 67 lights that have not received public comment. Through this process, we have heard from over 115 residents.
If the Town Council agreed to eliminate the remaining 67 lights that have not been part of the public comments, the savings would only be $7,500.
The Street Light Elimination Project public process has been a success with many residents offering passionate yet cordial opinions. However, the financial projections for this project have been diminished. The reduced number of lights to be eliminated combined with the delayed timing of turning off the lights has reduced the potential savings significantly.
The Town Council may want to consider temporarily abandoning this project to a later date. In a few years we may have an opportunity to upgrade the entire street light plant to more energy efficient LED bulbs. That may also present an opportunity to revisit a street light reduction plan.