By Mary Thurwachter
The streets of Lantana are about to get brighter at night. The reason: The town is switching out its high-pressure sodium street lights with energy-efficient LEDs, or light-emitting diodes.
The Town Council on July 8 approved an agreement with FPL to make the conversion, expected to save more than $844 in annual energy costs.
FPL’s business development manager, Francisco Arbide, said the new lights will distribute light more evenly. “Right under the lights, it’s very bright and there are dark spots around it. The LED lights have no up light, so there’s no light going up into the atmosphere. Obviously, that light doesn’t help anybody: It’s wasted light that creates issues with not being able to see stars at night and affects birds and animals with that light pollution.”
The lights at the beach are not included in the FPL upgrade project, which is expected to take place in 6-8 months.
Arbide said the new lights would provide more natural light than current lights.
The LED lights will make it easier to decipher white lines on the roads, he said.
FPL will provide installation and maintenance. The bulbs come in 3,000 kelvins and 4,000 kelvins. The council chose the 4,000 K, after the staff recommended them, and after Police Chief Sean Scheller said the brighter lights would be best for safety reasons.
Not everyone, however, favored the brighter lights.
Media Beverly, who lives on Hypoluxo Island, said during public comments, “I would be very disturbed to have 4,000 K coming down on me when I’m trying to walk my dog — and I don’t want that light glaring into my bedroom at night.”
The current vapor lights, Beverly said, are nicer, softer and prettier and the animals aren’t disturbed by them. “I’m really begging you to go to 3,000 K, at least for Hypoluxo Island.”
At the town’s second monthly meeting, on July 22, Beverly doubled down on her request during public comments at the end of the meeting.
“I know at the last meeting you voted to change all of the 538 streetlights in Lantana to 4,000 K and I had asked if you would consider putting the streetlights on Hypoluxo Island at 3,000 kelvins. You did not do that,” she said.
“There are about 46-50 lights on Hypoluxo Island — that’s almost 10 percent of the lights you’re changing out,” she said. “I took a survey of about 30 neighbors, and they all asked if I would get up here and ask you to reconsider changing the lights on Hypoluxo to 3,000 K.
“It’s going to change the ambience of the island if you go to 4,000 K. At least if you go to 3,000 K, the light is somewhat softer. We’re not asking you to leave things alone as they are with the vapor lights. We’re just asking you to tone it down some to preserve what we’ve got there at some level.”
The council meets again on Aug. 12.
In other action, the council set the town’s proposed tax rate at $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the next fiscal year. Public budget hearings will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 9 and Sept. 23 in council chambers.