Last spring, the Concord town Conference unanimously passed a resolution to drastically reduce the town's streets. -
Light Budget and Close One-
The third fixture is designed to save money and energy, but after living in darkness for several months, some people are reconsidering the decision.
Dorrie Kehoe submitted a citizen petition asking all the lights off in the town to be turned on.
Kehoe said it was not until this winter when the lights went out and the days became shorter that residents realized how much the impact was.
"The result is that there are no street lights in all residential areas, which is very surprising," Kehoe said.
I shrugged a little when someone shouted.
Then autumn came, and many of us took a look.
Chris Whelan, the town manager, said the move saved about $35,000 from the town's $76 million budget and shut down about 500 of the 1,350 street lights in residential areas.
He said lights were always on at intersections, crosswalks, railway junctions, business districts and sharp turns.
"It's on a billing basis," he said.
However, Whelan said town officials might consider adjusting the strategy of turning off lights.
For example, the town may consider whether it is possible to leave work at midnight instead of lighting the business district all night.
With energy savings, lights can be turned on in other parts of the city, such as near libraries, schools or other public meeting places where pedestrian traffic is congested.
On the whole, however, the town government believes that residents support the new policy.
If not, they will have their speeches when Kehoe's article appears at town meetings.
Jeffrey Wayne, chairman of the Electoral Commission, said he felt that only a few residents wanted to overthrow the policy.
About 27 residents took advantage of this option by using a specific street lamp, paying the town's Lighting Department $17 a month for at least two years.
But Kehoe believes that residents should not pay for ordering.
"In a town with a budget of $76 million, there are some basic expenditures, and I think that's one of them," she said.
Kehoe also said she did not believe the plan saved a lot of energy.
She believes that many residents have turned on outdoor lights to make up for the lack of street lights.
Concord is not the only community in the state trying to save money by turning off street lights.
Two years ago, Planville and Rainsham started turning off the lights. Around the same time, Belmont officials proposed a plan to turn off all side lights, but after residents complained, they gave up.
Geoffrey Canty, an administrative assistant in Belmont, said officials decided to reduce the power of street lights.
State Grid spokesman David Graves says utilities in 11 Massachusetts communities have asked for some street lights to be turned off since 2005.
In some cases, he said, the State Grid has restored some or all of its lights, at the request of the community or because they are used by customers.
Michael Durand, a spokesman for NSTAR, said cities and towns were seeking to improve energy efficiency by upgrading lighting, not by eliminating lighting.