Before it takes any action to pull the plug on a select number of north Brainerd street lights, the city will be taking its plan to Brainerd's northside residents.
Brainerd Public Utilities Superintendent Tom Phelps on Monday presented to the Personnel and Finance Committee the street lights he proposes to shut off as part of a six-month pilot project.
Under Phelps' plan, a total of 45 lights would be shut off, mostly mid-block lights between Kingwood and Washington streets.
"That's where all the lights are," Phelps told the Personnel and Finance Committee.
Mid-block lights on North Eighth Street from Washington to Fir streets also would be shut off, as would lights in alleys between Kingwood and Washington streets.
Lighting in north Brainerd has come under scrutiny after Brainerd Public Utilities proposed shutting off about 25 street lights as part of a pilot program to save energy costs.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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In total, there are about 290 street lights in north Brainerd. Shutting off 45 street lights would save an estimated $552 a month and $6,626 a year.
But before the project gets under way, the council wants Phelps to meet with the Brainerd Northside Neighborhood Association to discuss which lights will be shut off. The council expects to take action on the pilot project in December.
"Let's put it before them, let them argue the pros and cons, the savings, whatever they see are pitfalls," committee chairwoman and council member Mary Koep said. "I think it's a benefit to give northside people that opportunity."
Committee and council member Kelly Bevans, who lives in north Brainerd, said he's heard from many residents and attended an association meeting and there is not a lot of support for the idea.
"The concerns were that the light is necessary for movement at night, for safety, that the amount of money saved isn't worth it and many felt that this was an attack on the north side," Bevans told the council.
Council President Kevin Goedker, too said, he's heard negative comments about the proposal.
"The comment I received from one citizen, and I quote, 'Where are your brains? Don't risk our security to save some money.'"
Council member Bob Olson said he was prepared to vote against the proposal because of the number of phone calls he's received in opposition to the pilot project. He said he was pleased the committee was going to the residents.
Koep said that while most north Brainerd residents she spoke with were concerned, they said they would go along with a pilot project as long as the city would listen to residents' concerns.
She said the meeting with the association would help.
"Fears are often worse than reality," Koep told the committee.
The pilot project is one of several energy-saving ideas Brainerd Public Utilities is considering as a means to save the city money wherever it can. Other areas include changing the wattage and design in streetlights installed with street projects and seeking stimulus money to improve energy efficiency for all city buildings.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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