City capital plan includes $300K for streetlight replacements

Apr. 4—Frederick will continue a program to upgrade street lights, in an attempt to conserve energy and address concerns about crime and lighting in parts of the city.

The work is included in the capital improvements program of Mayor Michael O'Connor's proposed fiscal 2024 budget.

The program involves replacing outdated older lights with newer more energy-efficient light emitting diode bulbs that produce a whiter light than older, incandescent and high-pressure-sodium bulbs that produce a more yellow light, Public Works Director Zack Kershner said Tuesday.

The plan lists $300,000 in funding for the streetlights program in fiscal 2024. The city also gets grants to help fund the program, he said.

The city has "thousands and thousands" of lights in its system, some of which are 20 years old, Kershner said.

In March 2022, Sustainability Manager Jenny Willoughby told the mayor and aldermen that an inventory of the city's streetlights included 3,867 high-pressure sodium, 943 induction, 20 mercury vapor, and nine incandescent lights. The inventory also counted 3,442 LED lights.

The capital program is an ongoing six-year list of infrastructure and physical projects and improvements that lists funding for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as planned expenditures in future years.

The program's inclusion in the capital plan comes as some residents raised concerns about lighting in parts of the city at a community meeting last week with O'Connor and Police Chief Jason Lando.

Lighting on the south side of the city was "atrocious," one man said.

Denise Sparks, a coordinator for NAC 10 on the south side of the city, said Tuesday that some lights in the area are dim, while others are out completely.

The NAC includes neighborhoods between Jefferson and Market streets, and from south of South Street to Interstate 270.

Sparks said she and her husband no longer go on walks after dark near their home near Carrollton Drive and Prospect Boulevard because they don't feel safe on the darker streets.

Kershner urged anyone who notices a light out to submit a report on the city's website or call the public works department, so it can be replaced.

O'Connor said in a statement Tuesday that the city understands the benefits of street lighting to deter crime in its neighborhoods.

"My administration has worked to upgrade lighting in all of our neighborhoods while balancing the real concerns residents also share regarding increased lighting becoming too bright while they are in their homes or trying to sleep. In some cases we've implemented the use of shades on street lights to dim the half of the light that faces the property while fully illuminating the street and that has proven effective."

In an interview Tuesday, O'Connor said he heard the concerns raised at the recent meeting, and would like to talk to the DPW staff about the areas where lights are replaced.

It's important that residents report outages, so the city can see where there are problems, he said.