Oak Park considering streetlight updates for first time in 40 years

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Photo courtesy of Bob Simpson via flickr

The Village of Oak Park Board of Trustees met with the public works department last week to discuss updating Oak Park’s streetlight system for the first time in over 40 years, the Pioneer Press reports.

“The last upgrade to the street lighting system was in the early 1970s,” said public works director John Wielebnicki. “There’s a couple things we need to talk about when we consider upgrading or changing our lighting. Do we want to have more of that residential character with soft lighting? Or do we light it up like a main street? There are very different lighting systems and materials and costs.”

Nearly 7,000 street lights are located in Oak Park; 3,500 in public areas and business districts, 2,400 in residential neighborhoods, and 1,000 in alleyways. The two most important factors in considering an updated streetlighting system are the cost to taxpayers and combating crime.

Four streetlighting options were presented to the board by Wielebnicki at a Feb. 12 meeting. Each option will be analyzed during an approved pilot test period before committing to a permanent solution.

The most cost-effective option is to replace the existing 100-watt streetlamps with similar bulbs at a cost of $50 per streetlight despite the low wattage and limited supply of outdated bulbs.

The second option requires the existing streetlamps to be outfitted with LED lamps at a cost of $200 per streetlight.

The third option is to upgrade the streetlamps with an LED light insert for concentrated light distribution at $700 per streetlight.

The most costly option is to replace the existing streetlamps with an entirely new LED fixture at $1,500 per streetlight, according to the report.

“As we look at our lights now, they emit light in every direction,” said Village Trustee Deno Andrews. “In the future, I would like the light to face down. As much as I love our fixtures, and they’re so gorgeous, every time I look, I wonder how much light we’re wasting and putting up in a tree.”

More information regarding which option will be chosen as the permanent solution, cost, and correlation to crime will be made available as the pilot period proceeds.

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