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City checks out new lighting

| Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Connellsville City Council has learned that a proposed decorative lighting project intended to improve the downtown area will also save the city money on its monthly electric bill.

Karen Lind, a representative from Allegheny Power, explained that the project, which calls for 12 aluminum lighting poles along Crawford Avenue - from Brimstone Corner to Arch Street - to be replaced with decorative lighting fixtures, would save the city approximately $121 in electrical costs per month.

Lind has been working closely with council member Judy Keller, who also heads the city's accounting and finance department. Keller is pleased that the project, while enhancing the business district, will also save the city money.

Currently, the city has 30-foot aluminum poles with mercury vapor lights, white in color. The project proposes those poles be replaced with 12-foot decorative poles with acorn-style lamps, also white in color.

Because the new fixtures are the same color, Lind said it won't take anything away from the facades of the downtown buildings.

The current lights utilize 1,000-watt bulbs, while the proposed lamps would require only 175 watt bulbs. Although that is a significant difference, Lind said it would not result in less light. Because the new fixtures are significantly shorter than the current ones and closer to the ground, all of the light is thrown down directly on the road and sidewalk.

Another factor in the proposal that council must consider is the need to install underground wiring.

"Originally, we thought all lights running from the bridge were underground. As it turns out, the wiring is overhead," said Lind.

Although she admits it makes the project more difficult, it isn't impossible. She estimates it will cost approximately $14,000 to dig the 6-inch trenching required to install the underground conduit required for the lights. The brick portion of the sidewalks could easily be removed to allow for the installation of the conduit, according to Lind.

Although normally it is up to the customer to provide the trenching and conduit work, the city can choose to have Allegheny Power handle the work as well.

If council selects this option, Allegheny Power would own and maintain the fixtures. The city would have to pay $12,888 for the fixtures and $3,700 for the installation and wiring. The city's monthly electric bill would also be reduced from $31.58 per fixture per month to $21.49.

The other options offered include a metered system where Allegheny Power still maintains the fixtures, an unmetered service where the lights would be owned by the city and would be part of the company's relamping and scheduled maintenance program, and a metered service where fixtures are owned by the city and maintenance is also handled by the city.

"The big issue may be the maintenance. However, there isn't a whole lot to the maintenance of these lamps," said Lind.

The lamps are made of polyacrylic, which doesn't yellow and rarely shatters, and includes a 10-year guarantee, according to Lind.

Lind also informed council of the various additions that can be ordered to make the fixtures even more attractive and useful, including finials, banner holders, flower pot hangars, cages around the lamps and electrical outlets.

The city has allocated $86,000 of its 2002 state Community Development Block Grant funds for the revitalization project, which, in addition to decorative lighting, includes the installation of benches and the purchase of new trash receptacles for the downtown business district.

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