By Jane Smith
The city’s Beach Property Owners Association board does not like the prospect of a 1.2-mile stretch of A1A in Delray Beach going dark for eight months starting in March.
Bob Victorin, association president, sent an email to city leaders opposing the recent change proposed by Florida Power & Light.
“We feel that no street lights during the eight months of turtle season is not a viable alternative,” he wrote on Sept. 21. “We are concerned about the safety of the residents and visitors who choose to use that portion of our downtown at night.”
The utility no longer wants to have individual cities provide light fixtures on its power poles. FPL gave Delray Beach two choices for lights along A1A, which fronts the beach. The choices were: white LED lights from November through February and no lights during the turtle-nesting months of March through October, or red LED lights that can stay on throughout the year.
The email was sent to the Delray Beach city commissioners, city manager and city attorney with copies to the assistant city manager, acting assistant city manager, acting chief of police, parks and recreation director and the assistant public works director.
“Our beachfront is part of our downtown and is heavily used, both day and night, by Delray Beach residents and the many patrons of the restaurants and hotels,” Victorin wrote. “It only takes one victim of a nighttime crime and our precious beachfront could become known as a dangerous part of town.”
The association board urged the city to meet with FPL to come to an agreement that would let the current amber lights stay lit year-round.
At the end of the Sept. 6 City Commission meeting, Mayor Shelly Petrolia said she was hearing many safety concerns raised about the Aug. 21 decision to go dark on A1A for eight months. She told City Manager Mark Lauzier to talk with FPL about the amber lights.
Lauzier, who has been busy with budget preparations and then attending a city managers conference, says he now has some time to talk with FPL representatives.
FPL won’t make any changes to the lights until January, said Richard Beltran, an FPL spokesman. The utility works with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve turtle-friendly lighting.
“At this moment, (the red hue) is the only FWC-approved LED light we offer that can remain on during turtle nesting season,” he wrote in an email.