By Jane Smith

The main street of downtown Boynton Beach will soon be brighter and safer, with increased lighting approved by its Community Redevelopment Agency board.
“I think this project is very important to the development of Ocean Avenue,” said board member James Buchanan. “I think it’s not just the lighting on the street, but the lighting in the trees that will create an atmosphere” needed to revitalize the downtown.
At its April meeting, Assistant Director Mike Simon presented a slide show that depicted a dark stretch of East Ocean Avenue between Seacrest Boulevard and Federal Highway. The section includes two historic homes — at 211 E. Ocean and 480 E. Ocean — that the CRA will sell soon and will be converted into Italian restaurants. East Ocean Avenue also houses City Hall, the civic center, Dewey Park and the amphitheater.
Simon, who received board direction in March to work with Brang Construction to bring the lighting contract more in line with the budgeted amount of $252,715, then presented two options.
One would reduce the price by about $41,000 by eliminating lighting in 16 trees and the second by about $52,000 by eliminating lighting in 24 trees, not the $160,000 needed to close the gap.
The savings were not big enough to justify the cutbacks, the board decided. Members approved moving money from another budget item to make up the shortfall.
The light poles will be  painted teal, instead of black which Simon had proposed. Board member Woodrow Hay said a previous City Commission had wanted a distinctive look for Ocean Avenue to match the color of the bridge and the poles on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The vote passed 5-2, with board members Mike Fitzpatrick and David Merkel voting no. Fitzpatrick had wanted to see a bid for LED lights, not the incandescent ones used in the contract. Merkel sided with Simon, who wanted to see black light poles. Ú

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