At our October 25th member and resident meeting, I was pleased to be able to announce the first definitive step has been taken toward our LIGHT UP LEINKAUF project. If you have not heard about our project, here is the background and our latest update.
Since 2008, LHDNO and neighborhood groups have worked to begin lighting projects in our district, but at each attempt, have hit a wall for one reason: the electrical grid that would support improved street lighting does not exist, making any such project enormously expensive because of the infrastructure foundation needed.
The existing antique poles inside the district were on the city's very first electrical grid! That switch, located at the southwest end of the district, has been condemned. Our electrical grid is a patchwork of the lamps on Government Street updated a few decades ago, functioning antique lights on Park Terrace, condemned and dismantled antique lights in the Battery Heights area, and security lights on wooden poles installed by Alabama Power and the city.
The short story is that the original street lighting switch, apparently somewhere in the general area of South Monterey at Lamar, is condemned, and in order to renovate existing antique lighting or install new reproduction antique lights, a new primary switch and grid series or electrical run must be established. Those are lay terms, as I understand them, for the technical situation explained to the lighting committee when we met with the city.
2018 Ad Hoc Lighting Project Committee formed:
In summer 2018, former LHDNO President and Board member Tim Maness suggested we again work on lighting. He agreed to chair a new Special Project ad hoc committee, and he and I have been working on that since last August along with our ongoing Lighting Chair Carol Adams-Davis, Beautification Chair Brenda Bolton, Dexter representative Allyson Henry, NEC chair Suzanne Schwartz, our 2018 Board, and other members. It takes the village. The committee met for a brain-storming session which produced clear goals, an approximate timeline with beginning steps, and broke the huge district-wide project into "do-able" sections. It is my hope that our work to establish our 9 Areas of Representation will contribute to a successful, cooperative plan.
Then and Now:
Earlier committees from LHDNO, Flo Claire, Dexter Street and individual residents, have vocalized the need for lighting and worked hard to overcome the "no infrastructure" obstacle. While their work was not successful at the time, they brought attention to the need. As a result, two things happened in approximately 2008-2010: First, Alabama Power installed 19 more security lights to at least address the dark. The problem was that the 25' high poles placed the lights hidden above the tree canopy in many cases. Further, the draping wires for many of the poles made some areas --as one resident complained-look like "a trailer park." While better than being in total dark, the security lights were minimally effective and did nothing to improve the aesthetics of anyone's street, and exposed wires made the lights ugly and more vulnerable in storms.
The second thing which the early committees accomplished was to bring enough attention to the need that the city developed a master street light plan for the Battery Heights area where the original electrical grid had been condemned and where our antique lights were being dismantled. This plan, if implemented, would: replace and upgrade the condemned switch and series; replace the dismantled antique poles with reproduction iron poles, acorn globes, and LED lighting (see those being installed on St. Louis Street); install a new "primary" switch for street lighting and move it to a more-easterly location, making future runs to new streets shorter and therefore less expensive; and finally, cost-estimate the project.
That Master Plan has been waiting for action since the 2008-2010 era, and we have now been able to get a commitment from the city that the plan will be moved into the city's "Action Plan" for 2020, which will begin in late spring or early summer of 2019 with the actual work-planning phase. The actual work is next, to begin 2020. This will provide the foundation we have needed for over a decade that will allow future street runs to be added. This removes the "roadblock" to our earlier efforts. Next, it will begin the process of actually replacing existing, dismantled lighting on the Battery Heights circuit (the general area is along Lamar starting at So. Monterey, turning south along West Street, then running on West Avenue, parallel to Virginia, and terminating on Adler Street, with a possibility of added poles, to be determined by costs).
We have received feedback from both the city and from Councilman Manzie that this project will move forward in 2020. I want to emphasize that this is a beginning. We will have to find and write for grants, have fundraisers, seek foundation donations, engage business partners, and explore every possible funding source to continue the project across the district. At each step, we will need the cooperation of the city, and the city will determine all placement decisions, just as they have for our historic marker project.
If you have not noticed, our historic markers are now installed on all 4 perimeter streets with interior placement beginning on Michigan and at the Monroe intersection of Dexter. Our commemorative LHDNO sign sales, chaired by Joe Mahoney, have paid for these installations, and we have more signs to sell to continue those installations. Buy signs online at www.leinkauf.org at the Subscribe tab, send LHDNO an email on the website at the Contact Us tab, or see Joe Mahoney.
We appreciate the work of the Ad Hoc Lighting committee, the Board, our members and residents and those who have purchased our commemorative signs, and especially Councilman Manzie, whose encouragement and support have been so important in all our projects, but especially lighting and other infrastructure!