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No easy matter restoring ornate street lights
A Downtown Streetlight Committee offered a number of scenarios for the repair and replacement of the ornate street lights but provided no specific recommendation.

"There are complaints that the sidewalk is getting darker and darker, and the lights just look awful," City Councilor Peter Schumacher said Thursday.

Schumacher presented the committee report at a City Council meeting last week. Twenty-two Newbury lightposts topped by 22 Hancock lanterns were installed in 1988-89.

The report offers an inventory of the current situation: "12 light poles with tops remain standing (though many tops are leaning), only eight lights work and three poles are completely gone."

The cost estimate for labor and materials to repair the four nonfunctioning lights: a little more than $1,700.

Buying 11 Jefferson lanterns and replacing three missing poles would cost just more than $18,000, without labor.

Jefferson and Hancock lanterns come from the original manufacturer, Spring City Electrical Manufacturing Company, of Spring City, Pa.; another option is to change the style to one offered through Heritage Lanterns, of Yarmouth.

Making all the lantern tops consistent, and moving three poles from Second Street, would cost upwards of $24,000.

The goal is to "redesign and install Water Street lighting to meet the standards set forth by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America."

The committee report emphasized that a crown in the alignment of Water Street has helped cause damage to a number of poles, as they are sometimes struck by taller vehicles that park along the main thoroughfare.

As the crown on the road rises with each repaving, parked vehicles lean farther toward the sidewalks where the streetlights are located.

Schumacher and others say a rebuilt road should solve the problem.

"It's been 98 years since the street has been rebuilt," Schumacher said. "They just keep paving it and paving it."

The city formed the streetlight committee in 2004.

"Committee and the city council have not wanted to put money into the street lights to have them damaged again," Schumacher said. "We do realize there's a need for pedestrian safety and we're going ahead and looking for options."

Schumacher said the committee is to meet again next month to gather more information, and the members hope to have options for the full council to consider as a new budget is prepared.

The report suggested possibly raising some money for the work as an "Adopt a Streetlight" program where donors of a specific amount would be recognized with a plaque on the pole.

Schumacher said the group is also looking at LED options, more efficient lighting and grant opportunities.
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