Erving considers trying solar-powered street lights

By EMILEE KLEIN

For the Recorder

Published: 03-29-2023 5:05 PM

ERVING — Town officials are considering piloting solar-powered street lights to replace the broken lights along the Lillian’s Way sidewalk.

Town Administrator Bryan Smith and Town Planner Mariah Kurtz explained officials must decide between three solar-powered lights or a more traditional stand-alone unit. While Smith and Kurtz said solar units are less expensive, this is the first place they would be installed in Erving. Kurtz said officials plan to research models of each type of unit, as well as view the lighting options in other towns.

“We want to do [our] due diligence. … Regardless of model, hardwired or solar, we want to reference other towns,” Kurtz said.

The town government appropriated $50,000 to install one light on the corner of Northfield Road (Route 63) and Lillian’s Way, install one light across from the housing complex’s mailbox, and replace one lantern-style light that has failing equipment.

“We just want to make sure whatever investment we put in lasts for the next 20 years or so,” Smith said.

The cost of a traditional street lamp depends on whether the current lighting infrastructure is code compliant. If an inspector finds the framework to be in violation of codes, Smith said all the electrical conduits must be replaced by way of an underground trench. Solar-powered units, however, do not require any underground work.

A private developer built the housing complex and then turned it over to the town, so Erving officials do not know about the condition of the lighting infrastructure.

Town officials hosted a short meeting last week with the residents of the complex along Lillian’s Way to gather input on streetlight placement, design and brightness. Residents walked the property with Smith, Kurtz, Selectboard member Scott Bastarache and Highway Superintendent Glenn McCrory.

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Residents voiced their preference for warmer light instead of the blue light installed at the Senior & Community Center parking lot. Attendees also wanted fixtures that push light down toward the sidewalk to prevent light from shining into their windows.

“Some people are looking for more illumination of their property,” Smith noted. “That’s not what we’re doing.”

Each street light will be placed on a 2.5- to 3-foot cement pedestal to prevent oxidation from road salt. If the units are solar-powered, the solar panels will be on the concrete pillars to inhibit snow accumulation. The poles will also be made of commercial-grade, thick metal rather than fiberglass to prevent an accident from breaking the pole.

The Selectboard is also considering two-headed fixtures on the poles, rather than have poles with a singular light. This, they reasoned, might be particularly beneficial to have on the corner, where one light would illuminate the Lillian’s Way roadway and the other would light up the crosswalk next to Route 63.

According to Kurtz, one existing light on Lillian’s Way broke when it was struck by a landscaping truck around a year ago. Another light farther down the street is still standing, but stopped working.

Smith said he hopes to place an order for the new lights in a couple weeks. He warns that wait times on orders are longer than normal, so the project may take time, but he is moving the project along as soon as possible.

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