By Tim O’Meilia
Gulf Stream town commissioners gave a tentative green light to new street lights — provided town residents give a thumbs up to a demonstration model to be erected, perhaps near Town Hall soon.
“Let people see what they are going to get,” said Commissioner Robert Ganger.
What commissioners prefer is a power-efficient, long-life LED light set inside a black, six-sided, lantern-style covering with little adornment, atop a 12- to 14-foot black pole. The model, called the La Jolla by manufacturer Beacon Products of Sarasota, emits a white light that can be adjusted to any of three brightness settings.
At its March 15 meeting, the commission deemed the La Jolla more elegant than an eight-sided lantern-style with more ornamental features.
Fifty-three of the new lights would replace lights on the town’s interior roads. Another 35 cobra-head style LED lights would replace FPL models along State Road A1A.
The taller cobra heads are necessary because they must be set farther off the road. The cobra heads would be black with painted black poles, replacing the concrete and gray poles and heads currently in place.
“It’s an opportunity for improved safety and security but also an aesthetic streetscape,” said town planner Marty Minor of Urban Design Kilday Studios. “It creates a unique identity for the town.”
Beacon Products is the only vendor offering the decorative lights, so the town will not seek bids.
The new street lights will cost an estimated $380,000 but last 30 years. The black paint has a 10-year warranty and the lights a 5-year guarantee. “Considering it’s 30 years, that’s a good price,” said Commissioner Garrett Dering.
FPL would replace the current lights, both along A1A and on interior roads, at no cost.
Town Manager William Thrasher proposed borrowing the money from the $5.5 million in the undergrounding fund built from property-owner assessments. The money is available because undergrounding work will not begin until June at the earliest.
The town would repay the money — including an additional $81,000 for street signs — at a 0.75 percent interest rate, cheaper than a 1.85 percent bank loan rate. The commission would increase town property tax by 30 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value for the next three years to repay the loan.
Thrasher and members of the town’s civic association have said residents are willing to slightly increase taxes for the new lights and signs.
Commissioners approved the black-bordered street, traffic and school signs in February.
In other business:
* Commissioners Tom Stanley and Ganger were sworn in to complete the year remaining on the terms of previous commissioners. Both were appointed last summer and were unopposed in the March election.
* Town officials have dropped plans to install Australian pines along State Road A1A in front of the new Harbor View Estates after a disagreement with state officials over a “clear zone” for driver visibility along the three-lot stretch. State officials have insisted on an 18-foot clear zone, which would prevent installation of the pines. But the town will not remove any of the roadside growth there now. Town Manager William Thrasher said Australian pines would be installed along other stretches of the road between Sea Road and Pelican Lane when the opportunity arises, based on an 11-foot clear zone approved by the state Legislature in 1996 given the historic value of the trees to the town.
By Tim O’Meilia