CLEVELAND — After citizens and some members of Cleveland City Council expressed concerns and frustrations with the initial roll out of the city’s installation of of new, smart LED street lights, the city’s division of public utilities have made changes to the fixtures, which provide greater illumination to streets and sidewalks and not people’s homes and porches.
Safe Smart CLE, the City of Cleveland’s $35 million endeavor, which includes $21 million to install roughly 61,000 LED street lights, has been billed by city leaders as an initiative that will will reduce the city’s carbon footprint, provide greater illumination and provide a public safety benefit. To date, more than 17,000 street lights have been upgraded, putting the program at approximately 29% completion, city officials said Wednesday.
While the multi-million dollar project remains on schedule, there were some hiccups in the early stages.
At a public safety committee meeting in August, Council President Kevin Kelley expressed deep frustration with the initial roll out of the program, which occurred in his ward. Councilman Kelley chided public utilities officials over department staff apparently dismissing concerns and complaints filed by citizens.
“I need somebody to come out to Ward 13 at night and I want you to stand in the areas where these lights are supposedly not shining light,” Councilman Kelley said at the August meeting. “I want you to look directly at the light and say that this is okay and this is what we want. This is something we all supported. In the rollout, it’s getting citizens really angry, rightfully so, and you’re not responding to them. Basically, it’s telling residents that their concerns are something they are going to have to get used to and being dismissive of the people that make up the city of Cleveland.”
That frustration, however, led to field surveys and, ultimately, changes in what type of fixture the LED bulbs are being installed.
“With our customers, we heard what they said and we looked at what we can do in terms of light pattern and dispersion,” said Robert Davis, the city’s director of public utilities. “We were able to come up with something that I think is a much [better]…. brightness and illumination on the street and sidewalk.”
Davis told members of the council’s public utilities committee that the contractor has recently switched from a ‘type 3’ fixture to a ‘type 2’ fixture, the latter of which lights up the streets and sidewalks without spilling into nearby homes. The type 3 fixtures, which city officials said are the nationwide standard, illuminated the areas at a steeper angle and often illuminated neighboring homes.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback from our project. We want to thank those of you who bled with us,” said Ivan Henderson, the commissioner for Cleveland Public Power. “We were able to accommodate and address [those concerns] and be flexible and responsive to our residents and many of you who have asked us to look at issues.”
Although the project remains on schedule, crews will have to replace the streetlights already installed with the type 3 fixtures with the type 2 fixture. Councilman Kelley told News 5 that crews made adjustments in areas that received a lot of complaints and will later have to replace the existing type 3 fixtures in Ward 13.
It is unclear how many of the type 3 fixtures were installed. However, replacing them will not come at any additional cost under the city’s contract, Davis said.
All 61,000 streetlights remain on track to be upgraded by December 2020, officials said.