‘Loss of the night sky’ along Belfast Harbor Walk causes some to request relief — and darkness

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 17, 2013, at 10:19 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — During the years-long planning process for the Belfast Harbor Walk, streetlights were an integral part of the vision of the pathway, which stretches for more than half a mile along the city’s waterfront.

But until the switches were recently flipped for some of the newly installed street lights, neighbors didn’t know just how bright the previously dark night skies would seem.

“I’m here to lament the loss of the night sky,” Roy Rodgers of Belfast told city councilors Tuesday night at the regular meeting. “It just seems like there’s too much light. I’m hoping that somehow, the intensity can be turned down.”

He was one of a few residents who spoke up to let councilors know that the lights — especially the ones installed around Steamboat Landing — seemed to be too bright.

Later in the meeting, City Planner Wayne Marshall told councilors that not all the lights have been installed or connected to power yet. He encouraged councilors to wait and see how things looked with the entire complement of 36 street lights illuminated and new trees planted before making any changes.

“Safety has to be a key consideration,” Marshall said.

Councilor Roger Lee expressed his dissatisfaction that the streetlights as installed do not fully prevent light from being aimed up at the night sky.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt about the fact that we were promised full cut-off,” he said.

If the lights need to be altered, that will come at a price of at least $1,500 per fixture, councilors were told.

Councilor Mike Hurley said he would like to see people share their feedback before projects are installed, if possible.

“We had a number of public hearings. Nobody comes to those,” he said. “Now, in retrospect, if we have to redesign, we have a $1,500 per light problem. In the future, pay attention to those public hearings. They’re important. It’s easier to get it right from the beginning.”

Councilors did not take action on the matter during the meeting.

In other business, councilors:

— Voted unanimously to accept Alberta Way in the new Goose River Apartments subdivision as a city road.

— Decided to pay $2,000 toward tree pruning, repair and removal along Spring Street and on property owned by the First Church.

— Heard a proposal from Joe Feero of the Brooks Preservation Society to create a long-term lease with the city regarding the old rail corridor from Oak Hill Road to the Waldo town line. Feero told councilors that a 25-year lease agreement will be more reasonable and help with long-term planning for the corridor, which the non-profit railway organization wants to keep utilizing to run trains.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/17/news/midcoast/loss-of-the-night-sky-along-belfast-harbor-walk-causes-some-to-request-relief-and-darkness/ printed on April 20, 2014