WILMINGTON -- New streetlights can be seen going up around town, but some residents are voicing concern at the cost associated with installation.
"If we allow this to move forward and Green Mountain Power upgrades those lights to the tune of $800 to $1,200 a piece, when we come to the table with a plan or proposal to ask for financial support, we're going to have to pay Green Mountain Power an un-depreciated cost for the light," said Cliff Duncan, during public at a recent Selectboard meeting.
During the Jan. 22 meeting, Duncan had taken issue with the handling of the streetlight upgrade in downtown. He wanted to see the installation of the lights discontinue until his committee, which is tasked with putting up LED streetlights, could approach the Selectboard with a plan.
Duncan talked with Town Manager Scott Murphy before the meeting, stating that it was a misuse of tax dollars.
Murphy told the Reformer that approximately two years ago, the town entered into an agreement with Efficiency Vermont and Green Mountain Power. In it, Green Mountain Power agreed to replace all or a portion of the streetlights with the more efficient and cheaper LED bulbs, while Efficiency Vermont had agreed to pay for the retrofitting of those lights.
"These lights would save the town a lot of money as far as electrical costs," he added. "We pay a substantial amount of money for streetlights. We thought it would be a great idea at the time and I still think it's a great idea."
Work crews have already begun replacing the lights around town. The flat lights, which Murphy says look similar to pancake griddles, are more visible in the dark and create a different type of light.
In the downtown village, he reported seeing at least seven newly installed streetlights on the day that followed the Selectboard meeting. The process started within the last two weeks or so and it involves putting up about 25 streetlight poles altogether.
Duncan did not want Green Mountain Power to continue as the committee may be coming to the town looking to put in more decorative streetlights. He thought a plan could be ready in approximately nine months.
Although Murphy believed it was a great idea as it would help businesses by making the community more attractive, he said it had been a matter of timing and the current installation will save the town money.
"They're not at the point where they know the funding source, cost or where to put the lights," he concluded.
After the meeting, Murphy suggested that Duncan's committee collaborate with the Design Committee of the downtown group Wilmington Works.
The initial phase that the committee had planned would put 40 poles towards the center of the village, Duncan said. He also mentioned that the committee had spoke about applying for 1 percent local option tax revenue.
"If we can get 40 poles, we may be able to get the public energized and say, 'They look really good' and then we can do 100," added Duncan.
The Selectboard most likely will tackle this issue at another meeting in the near future.
"I think we should find out more about it," said Selectboard member Susie Haughwout. "It's logical to think there's a disincentive here. Maybe that's able to be worked out in another way."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.