Gradually, streetlights returning to city service

Gradually, streetlights returning to city service

Mayor plans to have all 1,261 restored by end of the year

WOONSOCKET - Workers from National Grid turned 29 more streetlights back on last Thursday, bringing the total number switched back on since Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt took office to approximately 120.

Baldelli-Hunt said in a news release that she was pleased to announce the reactivation of streetlights in a portion of the upper Bernon neighborhood.

"This marks the third phase of our reactivation program which will lead to the eventual relighting of the entire city of Woonsocket," she said. "We will continue to work diligently to identify additional cost savings and new revenue sources that will result in the completion of this important project."

Phase three of what Baldelli-Hunt says could end up being a 20-phase project saw 29 lights along 13 to 15 streets switched back on, said Baldelli-Hunt. Phase one saw 63 streetlights go on along 25 streets in east Woonsocket, while phase two saw just shy of 30 lights go on in the Oak Grove section.

With 120 or so lights back on, that leaves another approximately 1,140 more still left to be turned back on. The lights were originally darkened in 2010 as a money-saving measure. The move then was believed to save about $126,000 a year.

Baldelli-Hunt said her goal is to have all streetlights brightened again by the end of the 2014 calendar year. She would be much further along toward that goal, she said, had the city's former public works director secured a "favorable" electric rate.

Each phase of her light restoration plan so far has been subject to the approval of the Woonsocket Budget Commission, said Baldelli-Hunt, and each is being paid for through savings and new revenue in other areas.

Phase four of the plan, scheduled for sometime in April, will lead to lights being turned on along streets on the east side of Park Avenue, including Oakton Street, Hemond Avenue and Monty Avenue.

"We'll continue on from there," said Baldelli-Hunt.

Work is ongoing to secure better electric rates to generate enough savings to turn on a larger numbers of streetlights, said Baldelli-Hunt. An agreement reached with Verizon for two new antenna contracts will bring in an additional $60,000 once the Budget Commission approves the pact, she said. That larger chunk of money should allow multiple phases of the light restoration plan to be completed at once, she said.

According to a previous plan presented by the mayor to the Budget Commission, when in use, the lights cost $10.44 per month, per light. The city pays a fee of $6.86 of that total just for the poles every month, whether the lights themselves are on or off.