Residents respond as Harpswell weighs streetlight changes

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HARPSWELL — Residents are serious about their streetlights, and their safety.

That was the message about 60 of them conveyed to the Board of Selectmen Sept. 15 during a public hearing on streetlight removals.

The town’s Energy Committee has proposed adding, moving or removing about 80 of the town’s streetlights. The changes would save the town about $6,000 a year in lighting costs, consume less energy, and ensure that streetlights are in sensible places, according to David Chipman, who sits on the committee.

“When you’re driving around at night, the streetlights should indicate there’s something special,” like a sharp curve or a public place, he said. But many of the town’s streetlights are located along straightaways or on small side roads with little traffic.

But many residents weren’t thrilled to hear that their streetlights – and many spoke about the lights possessively – were possible slated to be shut off.

“In my opinion there’s no such thing as too much lighting. … Those lights mean a whole lot more than money to us,” said Jackie Merrell of Bailey Island.

Others were concerned about lights being removed in areas where walkers frequent the roads, or in places that are otherwise very dark and full of empty summer homes.

But some residents said they like the darkness, and spoke out against the addition of streetlights in their neighborhoods.

Sally Rich of Dingley Island came with a petition called “Keep Dingley Dark,” signed by her neighbors.

“We support the removal of the only two streetlights on Dingley Island,” Rich said. “Neither of them have worked in years.”

On Wednesday, Chairwoman Ellie Multer said she is planning a tour of all the streetlights mentioned last week. She said the next step is to look at the town’s street lighting policy and decide whether it should be revised in light of residents concerns.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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