2018-10-05 / Front Page

Lights out, down on Main Street

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer


The lamp post in front of LPL Financial, at 36 Main St. in Kennebunk, has been broken since struck by a car in April. Selectmen agreed Sept. 25 to a request of the town’s energy efficiency committee to remove it and two other broken lights on Main Street rather than incur as much as $12,000 in estimated replacement costs. (Courtesy photo) The lamp post in front of LPL Financial, at 36 Main St. in Kennebunk, has been broken since struck by a car in April. Selectmen agreed Sept. 25 to a request of the town’s energy efficiency committee to remove it and two other broken lights on Main Street rather than incur as much as $12,000 in estimated replacement costs. (Courtesy photo) KENNEBUNK — Less than a decade after they were installed during a multi-million makeover of Main Street, a trio of Kennebunk’s street lights are coming out, and as many as three more could be removed next spring.

Sharon Staz, chairman of the town’s Energy Efficiency Committee says the first three, at least, won’t be missed. They’ve been out for months anyway.

“No one has complained that the current lights are not working,” she said. “It seems like they are totally unnecessary, so why spend that money [to replace them]? If they were really necessary there would have been a huge hue and cry from a store owner or from the public, saying, hey, that light is gone we really need it back.”

Staz appeared before the board of selectmen at its Sept. 25 meeting to make the request for removal. Although the board did not conduct a vote to approve the removal, they did informally back Staz’ request, authorizing Town Manager Mike Pardue to have the broken posts removed.

“I have frankly not noticed any of these lights being broken. So, that just goes to show you that they’re not missed at all,” Selectman Blake Baldwin said, adding that the original design of the new lightscape may have been excessive anyway.

“When the lights were first unveiled, the Clark Griswold Christmas Vacation effect of the lighting was extraordinary,” he said.

The three lamp posts due to go are located in front of LPL Financial, at 36 Main St., in front of Cottage Designs, at 58 Main St., and between the exit ramps at the Kennebunk Savings Bank drive-up window, located at 104 Main St.

According to Staz, the light in front of LPL Financial was broken in April when hit by a car. The remaining stump has sat with a safety cone plopped over the top of it ever since. The other two lights went out “several months prior to that,” she said, and are missing their top lantern sections.

According to Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder, it would cost between $3,500 and $5,000 to replace each light. Pardue said the cost to remove the lamp posts and cover the resulting sidewalk holes with new paving stones would be comparatively “minimal.”

Selectman Ed Karytko questioned if removal of the lights would leave Main Street with a gap-toothed effect, but Staz said placement of the lights during the Main Street rebuild “was not symmetrical” anyway.

“We’re not asking you to remove lights that we believe are necessary,” she said.

Staz also informed selectmen that two lighting reports are in progress and due for delivery to within the next month or so.

Staz said her committee has recently met with three different firms to discuss the costs and logistics of converting to energy efficient LED bulbs on all streetlights throughout town. The next meeting on the topic is set for Oct. 10, she said, noting that the conversion may include “a proposal to engage in a better layout.”

“We may well come back to you next spring and suggest that one, two or three more lights could be taken out without damaging anything, and it would reduce our costs, reduce our maintenance and reduce our carbon emissions,” Staz said.

Pardue said the police department is surveying street lighting conditions townwide, with a report due “in the next three to four weeks.” The report could include requests for additional lighting in some areas. For example, Pardue said, “our rotary is horribly lit.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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