Street light reduction plan defeated, second public hearing set

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FALMOUTH — The 174 street lights proposed for removal will stay on, at least for now.

On June 21, the Town Council voted 4-3 to defeat a motion to eliminate 74 of the lights and hold a public hearing on another 100 slated for elimination. The reduction would save the town approximately $10,000 on electricity and rental fees.

Councilors Cathy Breen, Tony Payne and Teresa Pierce voted in favor of the measure.

The decision comes after the town posted laminated green signs on all the poles where street lights would be eliminated, and then held a May 24 public hearing to take comment from citizens.

Approximately 40 citizens spoke against the proposal, and others contacted town staff directly.

“We heard their comments. The Chief (of Police), (Budget and Purchasing Director) Randy (Davis) and I went back out on the road and took another look at these street lights,” said Town Manager Nathan Poore.

Poore said lights in areas with corners or curves were removed from the list, as were some lights in areas such as “The Flats,” where 23 lights were slated for elimination.

The 74 lights that remained slated for removal were those about which the town had not received any comment.

“I feel like (town staff) has done a lot of analyzing of data and listening to the public,” said Pierce, who cautioned that the longer this process goes on, the less money the town will save.

“I’ve been getting calls like you wouldn’t believe,” said Councilor Bonny Rodden, who lives in The Flats. “I think it’s too soon. People don’t get the big picture. I think we should put this off.”

Councilor Fred Chase agreed.

“I think it was a bad idea and that we should vote it down,” he said. “We upset a lot of people to save $10,000.”

The Council voted down the initial motion to turn off the 74 lights that had not received any public support. However, a second motion to hold another public hearing passed 5-2 with Breen and Chase opposed. The hearing date has not yet been set.

Because fiscal year 2011 begins in July and the $20,000 savings from the initial street light reduction proposal was included in that budget, Davis said staff would have to find those savings elsewhere.

“Sometimes things come in under budget and we can find the savings there,” he said. “Unfortunately, this might not be the only thing we have to find money for.”

Davis said if the $20,000 was not offset by mid-year, he would have to propose cuts elsewhere.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or