Now they’re all on
City rethinks No Man’s Land streetlight requests as Westside advocates push for government help
Three weeks ago, City Traffic Engineering declined to reactivate all but one West Colorado Avenue streetlight between 31st Street and the Manitou city limits.
Now all 11 are on.
“It doesn't look so much like a combat zone,” said Mike Crepeau, a business owner who had pushed for greater illumination as a crime deterrent in what's become known as “No Man's Land.”
“I'm beside myself with joy,” said Bonnie Lapora, representing the 133-home Grandview neighborhood north of the avenue, in comments to City Council Feb. 14 that also touched on the area's problems with thieves, drunks and aggressive panhandlers. “The light covers the shadows that plague us.”
In a coordinated advocacy effort, Lapora was one of three speakers during the Citizen Discussion portion of the council meeting who pointed out No Man's Land's issues. Another was Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), who said afterward that the plan is to coordinate with area residents and business people, elected officials and high government officials and to have speakers at every council meeting's Citizen Discussion period until the problems are resolved.
Steve Cox, head of Mayor Steve Bach's recently created Economic & Vitality Department, said he made the decision on the West Colorado lights. But he did not portray the action as the Mayor's Office overruling Traffic Engineering. He said the city happened to have some energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures from a previous grant and “this was an opportunity to pilot [test] them in an area where we've had some complaints.”
Others who stood up for the No Man's Land streetlights were Welling's wife, Sallie Clark, also a county commissioner; and Lisa Czelatdko, a City Council member. “I had some discussions with Council-woman Czelatdko,” Clark said, “and Steve Cox was good about working on this in relation to the economic vitality of the area.”
Dave Krauth of Traffic Engineering had told the Westside Pioneer in late January that his team's analysis of that part of West Colorado had shown sufficient light for most of the roadway, even with 10 of the fixtures deactivated. The only shut-off streetlight that his office agreed to turn back on at that time was one at the west end of the Amanda's Fonda parking lot, chiefly because a bus stop is there.
Asked what inspired the LED plan for West Colorado since then, Krauth said it was the result of an “internal” discussion.
Initially, Crepeau had asked the city to reactivate a total of 13 streetlights. (Those deactivated are recognizable by orange tape around their poles.) The additional two he sought are just east of 31st Street, on the north side of the avenue. However, the list that Colorado Springs Utilities worked from was only west of 31st, Utilities official Brian Babcock said.
Each of the 11 previously had a high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixture. According to Krauth, the difference can be seen in the fixture style (the LED type is flatter in shape) and the type of light (an LED emits a white light, an HPS a yellow).
He said about 300 LED fixtures arrived at the city two years ago through a federal grant and are being tested in different areas. They come highly touted - an LED uses half the energy of an HPS and supposedly will last five times as long - but they're too new for the longevity to be proven and potential downsides (such as glare) are also being considered, Krauth said.
One of the previous places that the grant's LED streetlights were installed is along the Colorado Avenue bridge just east of I-25. The avenue from 31st to Manitou will offer a different sort of test opportunity because it's the first roadway section where HPS and LED lights are being used together, Krauth said.
Westside Pioneer article