Monday, May 24, 2010

Extreme green

Check out Mary Baker Eaton's blog post about the proposed street light turnoff. It's quite enlightening (pun intended).

I see on the Excel spreadsheet she links to that the EAC is recommending that all the street lights on this end of Old Point Road (you know, where I live) be shut off. I wonder if they realize how dark it is out here at night? I always thought we needed more lights out here, not fewer ...

YIKES!

25 comments:

Ari Herzog said...

I wonder how many people realize how bright Newburyport is after driving along Scotland Road in Newbury from 95 to the town border.

Gillian Swart said...

And I wonder how you failed to miss my point about how dark it already is out here ... we all have to leave our porch lights on all night, so people can make their way down the street (where there are no street lights at all; they're all on Old Point Rd.). That's really counterproductive to the purpose, wouldn't you say?

Dick Monahan said...

In the six years that I've lived here, I've found walking the town at night to be nearly impossible, because so many of the streetlights are "buried" in trees, letting little illumination reach the ground. That wouldn't be so bad if the sidewalks and streets weren't in such deplorable condition.

It's actually kind of funny that the decorative downtown streetlights are on the list, because a large chunk of them are not working on any given night, anyway.

I've been wondering where The Mayor is going to find all that extra money she promised the schools. This is part of it, I guess.

Gillian Swart said...

I remember one winter - the first winter I lived here, actually - when there was a snow storm and I was driving home from downtown. The only markers I could see in order to stay on the road were the street lights, especially on Old Point Rd. Luckily, most of my drive along that road is in Newbury. But I think the ones in Newbury shut off periodically; I can't tell for sure because I have a way of making street lights go out as I go by them ... hmmmm, maybe it would make no difference.

Ari Herzog said...

Your argument was about lights, no? Inclusive of PI but not explicit on it.

I've never heard someone suggest there be increased lighting on PI until you wrote it above, Gillian. I wonder the history; why do you think there are few streetlights today?

Gillian Swart said...

Because there is only a light at the end of each side street. From what I can tell on the spread sheet, the plan is to take them pretty much ALL out. There are no others, at least not on my street. And - again - we all leave our porch lights on to compensate. Lisa had to install a light at the bottom of her steps because she couldn't see a thing down there, even with her porch light on, up on the deck. Nobody pays attention to anything out here, until the beach or a big house is in jeopardy.

Ari Herzog said...

There is no plan. There is that spreadsheet, yes, but that is data; that is not a plan. The City Council will determine the plan, based on EAC input after listening to the people.

I remain unclear why you think there is a lack of streetlights. I grasp streets are dark, but is that due to too much infrastructure being built on PI way back when, or because residents way back when didn't want bright lights in their backyards?

Gillian Swart said...

How the hell should I know? Lack of street lights=general darkness. The one on the corner of the next street over and Old Point Rd. shines right into my bedroom ...

Anonymous said...

Ari, I would suggest you get your butt over to Gillian's neighborhood on the next moonless night and then tell me what you see. Here's a hint: you won't see much, not unless you're wearing night vision goggles. Counting on the residents' porch lights to illuminate the road strikes me as Bad Public Policy.

That's why Gillian *and her neighbors* think there's a lack of streetlights.

Shutting street lights off in large numbers is probably a bad idea, Dick's comment about their effectiveness aside; it's been shown to increase crime, and if one studies the police reports it certainly appears that crime is increasing in Newburyport.

Dick also illustrates one of the 'port's many Catch-22 situations: the roads and sidewalks ARE in terrible condition, but there's no money for repairs, so to save money we're shutting down streetlights, making it more hazardous to walk/drive on the deplorable roads and sidewalks.

Yeesh.

- The Carrot

Gillian Swart said...

OK, so ... looking out my window, I see there is a street light on K St. (the next street over) and one on Kate St. (essentially my street, but on the other side of Old Point) but not one on this street nor at the corner (no wonder I'm always twisting my ankle when I take the trash down to Old Point ... since they re-did the roads after the water/sewer went in, there's a drop between the paved road and the soft sand).

Carrot, Ari has been out here at night ... he just wasn't paying attention, I guess.

macsurf said...

This street light thing is just more typical, nouveau riche, faux green, bourgeois bohemian nonsense.

If Mayor Holaday was REALLY serious about all things green and generating more revenue for things like schools, she'd impose a city surcharge on all the psuedo liberal, faux green, "bobo's" Range Rovers, Denalis, and Escalades.

But don't hold your breath for that kind of political and environmental courage.

It's all those faux green, Status Utility Vehicle driving "bobo's" who put Donna Holaday into office.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that your gracious and lovely presence diverted Ari's attention away from the streetlight situation.

(I thought I'd post something nice rather than what I truthfully thought, which was 'Herzog's lack of attention comes as no surprise'. Karma, baby, karma...)

Mac's got a point,and it's one I've been harping about for a while: when it comes to the concept of going Green in Newburyport there's a ton of hypocrisy. Case in point: the fuss over the wind turbine.

The bigger issue behind the streetlights, though, is the financial crunch that's leading us to seriously consider turning off streetlights.

- The Carrot

Gillian Swart said...

Awwww, Carrot, thanks ... but I rather think that Ari's attention, if it was diverted, was diverted by someone other than me. Or your gut reaction is correct. Either way. I'm pretty clueless myself in these matters.

Ari Herzog said...

I'm not a fan of going back and forth with an anonymous personality, Mr. or Mrs. Carrot, but perhaps you missed my question farther up this thread:

I remain unclear why you think there is a lack of streetlights. I grasp streets are dark, but is that due to too much infrastructure being built on PI way back when, or because residents way back when didn't want bright lights in their backyards?

People are turning on porch lights, fine. Does that mean they want their neighborhoods lit up like downtown? Isn't one of the appeals of living on Plum Island its serenity?

Regardless, this isn't a debate to add lights to PI. This is about either reducing or maintaining the status quo. I repeat now what I wrote the other day, that zero PI residents have approached me from the time I campaigned through now, other than Gillian, that there is not enough light.

Hence, I continue to be curious.

Pete said...

We should build another wind turbine and use that to keep the lights on.

Maybe we can turn off the blue lights in the winter and get the poor saps with parking tickets to foot the bill.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Carrot.

I read Tom Friedman's sequel to "The World Is Flat", titled "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" last winter and it just opened my eyes to just how inane and hypocritical this hip and trendy "going green" phenomenon really is.

As Friedman put it in the book, Americans love the idea of a "green party" that makes them feel good, but have no real stomach for the profound changes we really to make in a "green revolution" if we are to have any hope "managing the unavoidable, and avoiding the unmanageable" in the not too distant future.

This faux green, pseudo liberal, bourgeois bohemian street light scheme epitomizes all those different realities.

It's little more than self gratifying, feel good, faux green, "bobo" nonsense.

Frankly, it is typical of the new Newburyport that's emerged in the last twenty or so years.

Gillian Swart said...

Ari, I really don't understand your confusion or continued curiosity. Your whole tack makes no sense to me. So what if no one brought it up to you? Everyone is used to it and deals with it. And you're not our ward councilor ...

Taking what light there is away ... now that's something totally different.

And serenity?? Really?

What are you talking about?

macsurf said...

Ari is just one of those newly arrived, pseudo liberal, faux green, wash ashores who think they are smarter than everyone else who've graced Newburyport with their presence in recent years.

LOL, I'm half kidding - I think.

Ari Herzog said...

On the contrary, macsurf. If I was so smart, I wouldn't be participating on local blogs and asking questions because I'd already know the answers.

Tom Smith said...

Call me crazy, but I really dislike unsubstantiated assertions. So, just to annoy people and other miscellaneous vegetables :-) :

http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/crime.html

And, by the way, I've been a grown-up here longer than most natives. I can remember when there wasn't an orange glow over the city visible from I-95 and you could actually see the Milky Way. There was no serious crime to speak of then, either.

Gillian Swart said...

Tom, I can see the point on the site you referenced about crime going down when the lights went out - I mean, if the criminals can't see their hands in front of their faces, what's the point? And criminals don't usually go where there aren't people to perpetrate crimes against. Who's going to be wandering around in the total darkness?

All jesting aside, though, I just cannot come to grips with those figures. I don't believe a serious criminal is going to be deterred from committing a crime just because the lights are off. Maybe petty/impulsive crime ... like the time I saw a guy with a $100 bill hanging out of his back pocket and I ... never mind. I would not have noticed the $100 bill at all had not the guy been standing in a well-lit area.

So maybe I just proved the point ...? Or maybe I shouldn't have had that drink ... nice to hear from you.

Tom Smith said...

Hi Gillian.

I think the overall take-away, at least from the independent studies, not the ones by people selling lighting, is that there is no clear and convincing evidence that street lighting has any effect one way or the other on crime, but it does affect fear of crime.

To the extent that lighting does contribute to crime reduction it is only when accompanied by surveillance, which may in itself account for the reduction, and when it is not so bright as to interfere with that very surveillance.

Remote and infrequently patrolled areas do not benefit and lighting in those areas can, in fact, make matters worse, despite how much safer people might feel for having it.

Bubba said...

"Most crime, especially domestic break-ins, occur in daylight, proving that light can aid criminals."

Gee or maybe they break-in during the day when folks are less likely to be home ? Or shop-lift when the stores are open - during the day ?

Such statements don't lend much credibility to that web site.

That said, it's sad that a reasonable suggestion to evaluate the use of street lighting has been hijacked by extremists as apparently the road to hell is illuminated by good intentions.

Mary Eaton said...

There has got to be a way to be green and still have vibrantly lit streetscapes and a vibrantly lit downtown... unless the goal is for the city to be completely dark (which would definitely not be my goal). Boston is doing it. Light Boston, the link is here http://lightboston.org/. Green, community, light and historic preservation does not have to be mutually exclusive. It would take a lot of thought and planning, but we could do it.

Comity said...

Comments imparted (in part) --- forwarded in a Motion of Comity in segments.

To dip one's oar in, (ap)plying the (obvious) ply between:

1) the economy (i.e,, est. $65K savings in Newburyport's utility expenses) and
2) the ecology (i.e., reduction [albeit minimal] in the demand of National Grid's primarily coal-fueled "grid." *)

It's a small step in the right direction of reducing the city's "footprint." (**) And if a misstep is indeed taken “in the dark” needful changes/modifications can certainly be “brought to light” to the “powers that be.”

More in a subsequent posts re content intended for posting and positing in another format (skip to footnote ****).



****** FOOTNOTES ******

* The most complete online source (**) at this hyperlink indicates that National Grid's fuel mix at: 42% coal, 22% oil, 19% nuclear, 8% hydroelectricity, 3% natural gas, and 6% alternative energy sources (including 32 "lowhead" hydroelectric plants, 79 wind or solar generators, four trash-burning plants, and 24 co-generators (including facilities producing thermal energy and electricity from the same source).

** The “source” of that information rather focusing on our doing some “soul-searching” about our respective and collective “footprint” (see hyperlink --- with the local daily piece at indicating the total “takers” of this undertaking (to date) at 58 (as of yesterday’s billboard). While are attentions have been diverted, it is our intention to be up for the (carbon) challenge sooner rather than later. To do our part.

*** From a study dated nearly a decade ago. (***)

**** Given a Comity.org webpage in progress (and tidings with the Full Flower Moon, with a continuing conversation at the Virtual Wolfe Tavern --- had hoped to tap a source for more updated data last evening. However, while the spirit was willing, the body was weak.