Light and the moon

Revisits 2010 dock lighting decision 

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong 

Citing economic contingencies, Cold Spring’s mayor and trustees voted unanimously last Tuesday (April 17) to install more short bollard lights instead of tall “shepherd’s crook” lamp poles at the village dock. The vote revises a December 2010 decision that called for a mixture of both bollards and lamp poles but left room for reconsideration.

With Trustees Bruce Campbell, Ralph Falloon, Matt Francisco, and Charles Hustis joining Mayor Seth Gallagher in the decision, the board hewed back to an earlier “dark skies” design for the waterfront lighting, a project largely underwritten by the Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) to reduce light pollution and make the Hudson River, mountains and stars visible by night. Initially, HHLT proposed using all bollards for the dock, replacing the higher-maintenance and less energy-efficient lamp posts installed after the dock was rebuilt in the early 1990s. However, after opposition from some members of the public as well as a majority of the village’s Historic District Review Board, the Village Board voted in December 2010 on a compromise, using both the yard-high bollards and tall new lamp poles (likewise more energy efficient than the old lights). The first round of installation left four more shepherd’s crook poles in abeyance, for utilization when needed. On Tuesday, after looking at the amount of labor and costs represented by lamp poles, the Village Board chose the all-bollard approach instead.

James Hartford, of the village-based River Architects firm, told the board that to install the new shepherd’s crook lights, “we would need to put in full footings,” cutting and digging down into the concrete covering the dock, as well as redo an electrical conduit system. “Placing those footings is tricky.” By comparison, the bollards do not need deep footings or revamping of the conduit, said Hartford, an HHLT consultant on the project. Thus, “it’s a big savings for the village” to go with bollards, he said.

“My recommendation is to eliminate all the poles on the waterfront,” HHLT Executive Director Andrew Chmar advised the board. He cited the likelihood that two of the shepherd’s crook poles might be placed at Dockside park and the other two sold to the North Highlands Fire Department, which has expressed interest in them.

Trustee Falloon mentioned his reluctance to modify the 2010 decision but said he found the economic issue paramount. In choosing bollards, “I think it’s important” to demonstrate that “we did it for cost-saving and not to fool those who were against it” 16 months ago, he said. The 2010 resolution suggested a further review approximately a year after installation of the first bollards. In voting now, “we can prove we didn’t go back on our word,” Falloon said. “It’s just that it would cost a fortune” for the taller lights. “I’m not about to saddle the village with the extra cost.”

 The entire “dark skies”-dock improvement scheme also calls for a new, safer railing to replace the long-used but makeshift fence. On Wednesday, Chmar pegged the cost of the whole initiative at about $110,000 — some $45,000 for the lighting and design work, and $65,000 for the new railing and related items. Private donations account for about $100,000 of the total, he said. At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Gallagher observed that at the village level, “we’ve committed $10,000” to the project, covering the remainder.

“I believe the board agrees with me that this is a huge public benefit being achieved,” Chmar said after the meeting. Along with “both the aesthetic and safety improvements” he cited energy savings and the fact everything is being accomplished “with just a small percentage of the total cost borne by the public itself through the village participation.”
Photo by L.S.Armstrong

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government

5 replies on “Village Board Opts for More ‘Dark-Skies’ Lights over Lamp Poles”

  1. Would have been nice if this topic was listed on the Village Board website and agenda before any action was taken.

    I don’t necessarily feel strongly about dock lighting, but I do feel strongly about open government. Everyone, for and against the lighting proposals, should have been notified of this meeting and allowed to speak.

    Instead, a budget hearing was announced and posted, and a few other undisclosed agenda items added on.

  2. I don’t agree with the assessment of having to place footings in order to accomodate the lights. The existing lighting has been in place for nearly 15 years and they were installed using Hilte “kwik bolts”
    It is unfortunate that the village residents decision of 2010 is being ignored.
    There has been ample time to have discussed this with out such a quick decision.

  3. Point of clarification:

    The manufacturer’s data on the moment forces for the poles were shared with our engineer. He calculated the resistance needed to counter those forces, and concluded that the current installation does not meet code, nor does it provide the adequate safety factor to safeguard the public.

    Any new light pole installations would require footings based on these findings, and installing the poles without footings would be negligent. As the design professional of record, I will not take the risk and assume the liability of going against the recommendations of my structural engineer, the pole manufacturer, and NYS Code.

  4. I appreciate Mr. Hartford not wanting to go against the structural engineer. Mr. Philips comments worthy of noting as are Mr. Bowman’s.

    The question really goes back to the Village board.

    So no agenda listed, no agenda posted, no notice to residents that a vote was about to take place with the exception of those that were told ahead of time.

    Sounds like business as usual.

    Does anyone have the stones to say something was wrong about how this came to be? I have not opinion one way or the other on the lighting other than we should all look for an increase in crime now that the over head lights have been eliminated.

    One step back to the dark ages. Let us put candles up instead. Maybe it can be a new position, there is still time, budget not yet finished.

  5. No one is asking for an improper installation of the lighting but why has it taken so long for an explanation? And why has there been no consideration taken about safety issues when there are large crowds on the warterfront and the “dark sky” lighting is completely oblterated? That was the point in 2010 when it was approved to install higher lighting closer to the bandstand. My initial response to the quick decision has not changed. There should be further discusion on the matter to find other means rather than accepting an opinion of a certain few.

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