Options for a street lighting project requested by Point Edwards residents, on hold since late May following concerns about impacts to a nearby demonstration garden, was the focus of discussion during Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council meeting.
The council’s Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee listened to a presentation from Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams about lighting options for the area in question. The city council in November 2016 approved the $20,000 lighting project after hearing from residents who said they didn’t feel safe walking in the area of Pine Street and Highway 104 — located at the bottom of the Point Edwards development — after dark, due to lack of street lighting.
But the council in late May voted to temporarily halt the project after city crews disrupted plants and a bird’s nest on the edge of the volunteer-run Edmonds Wildlife Habitat Native Plant Demonstration Garden. Concerns were also raised about possible impacts the planned street lights would have on wildlife.
During Tuesday’s committee meeting, Williams presented two potential lighting options. He also shared a graphic of five common types of street lights, labeled I through V.
The first option was a proposal from Snohomish County Public Utility District that would includes three fiberglass poles with a 35-foot mounting height, spaced 161 feet apart, topped with a 50 watt Type II LED. This light comes with a choice of two different shielding options designed to minimize light spillage, Williams said.
Under the PUD proposal, the city would install the buried conduit and the PUD would install the poles. The PUD would then operate and maintain all three of the lights at a cost of $6 per light per month.
The second choice, know as the Sternberg option, reflects an earlier suggestion from some councilmembers that the city’s Pine Street project try to match the look of existing streetlights within the Point Edwards development. This option would include five poles, at a 13.5 foot mounting height, spaced 82 feet apart. The light itself would be a lower-intensity 32 watt Type 4 LED. This type of light doesn’t offer shielding options to address spillage concerns, Williams said.
The public works director expressed concern about the illumination pattern of the Sternberg lights because they are “inherently more round” with no shield available. “I think for that reason…I’d go with Snohomish County PUD,” he said.
In addition, Williams said, the PUD option is more attractive because the utility, rather than the city, would be responsible for maintenance “for very little cost” — $6 per light or $18 a month.
Council President Tom Mesaros, who lives at Point Edwards, pointed to another potential issue with the Sternberg option: If you try to match the existing Point Edwards lighting, “other neighborhoods are going to say ‘we wand those kind of poles,'” Mesaros said.
Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite said she had her own recommendation after meeting with officers of the Pilchuck Audubon Society, which runs the demonstration garden: that the project be careful of any spillage of light into areas where there has been bird nesting, which is a primary concern.
Those present for the committee meeting agreed that the vegetation in the area is dense, and it is unlikely that much light will enter the area from any type of street lighting. Hite also noted that a large light already exists at the Willow Creek Fish Hatchery area next to the garden, aimed at discouraging late- night gatherings and related mischief that tend to occur there.
While Audubon Society members were upset about plants being cut following the May construction, after closer inspection they realized that the damage wasn’t as bad as they originally thought and “what was cut is starting to grow back,” Hite said.
Councilmember Kristiana Johnson, acting as committee chair while Councilmember Neil Tibbott is on vacation, said she is committed to “finding a solution between the two main communities — Point Edwards and Demo Garden.”
As such, she said she preferred to delay referring the options to the full council until Demo Garden representatives had an opportunity to review the lighting options.
Mesaros countered that Point Edwards residents are concerned about potential addition delays to the lighting project because “they live there. They see this as their neighborhood. Even though there’s a group that’s cultivating a garden there, they don’t live there.”
In other action, during the council’s Public Safety and Personnel Committee meeting, members discussed a proposed interlocal agreement with the City of Lynnwood for a community support specialist/social worker to be shared between the Lynnwood and Edmonds Police Departments. The person will be hired “to address the complex social issues of homelessness, substance abuse and mental health,” according to the draft agreement.
The Edmonds City Council approved $50,000 in the 2017 budget to cover partial funding; under the draft agreement, Edmonds would fund 33 percent of a full-time position, with Lynnwood covering the remainder.
During the committee meeting, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas told Assistant Chief Jim Lawless she wanted to add some clarifying language to the job description accompanying the interlocal agreement, to ensure that Edmonds was properly represented, and that the duties of the position were better spelled out.
— By Teresa Wippel