Officials look for answers as decorative lights keep toppling

Officials look for answers as decorative lights keep toppling

All that's left of this lamppost on Smith Street in Centredale is a stub. Town officials are perplexed about how to deal with the ongoing problem of toppling lights in Centredale and Marieville. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Local officials are searching for answers to the town's chronic case of toppling lampposts, with more than 20 of the decorative fixtures currently missing in Centredale and Marieville.

Another tough winter has left gaping holes in the two village light systems that were originally designed with aesthetic beauty in mind.

Town Councilor Dino Autiello was set to initiate a discussion of the issue at a meeting Tuesday evening. Autiello is the latest council member to claim he's been getting calls from constituents asking that a solution to the problem be found.

Autiello said the look of the village sidewalks with the lights shorn off is not attractive. He wants to see what financing options might be available for getting the lights replaced, whether that means using money out of the town's general fund or seeking outside grant funding.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said he agreed with Autiello that the missing lights make for an unsightly appearance in the town's bookend villages, something that bothers him constantly, and he said town officials are already working on developing solutions to the problem.

Lombardi couldn't immediately say how much the town has spent on repairing or replacing the lights over the years, but he said the number is significant.

The mayor said it's too early to say whether town officials will eventually move away from the more expensive lights to something cheaper and sturdier.

An NBC 10 report last November stated that workers from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation installed about 200 of the decorative lights in the Centredale and Marieville sections about 15 years ago.

The lights, at about $4,200 apiece, are also installed in Chepachet, where officials have voiced similar concerns.

North Providence Councilor Stephen Feola previously asked whether North Providence's insurance carrier might reimburse the town for the cost of replacing posts, but officials responded that most incidents aren't reported, making such claims impossible. Chief of Staff G. Richard Fossa has said that the town can't file a claim unless officials have a police report for each post. The deductible for the damage is $10,000, according to Fossa, so there's no use to filing a claim for one or two posts.

The problem, Fossa said previously, is that most posts are knocked over at night and the driver doesn't stick around to talk to police. Fossa said the posts are made of cast iron and break easily if struck, especially in cold weather.

The decorative lights are essentially designed to break off if struck so that they don't damage vehicles, say town officials, meaning they do little damage to the car that struck them.

Rose Amoros, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, confirmed this week what town officials already knew, that the town, and not the state, became responsible for the maintenance of the lights after they were originally installed.

Comments

$4,000 a pop for decorative lights? Goes to show you what financial responsibility exists in NP. Put cobra head street lights on the existing telephone poles at $400 each and they will stay there for years. Let's get smart in this town, economics trumps looks nice. We still need the light on the streets so we can miss the pot holes and occasional person crossing the streets.

When these poles were being installed, I asked then why they were so close to the edge of the sidewalk, almost adjacent to the street. The answer was that they had to leave enough space so that disabled persons could pass by. I then asked why didnt they just place them at the inner edge rather than the outer edge of the sidewalk. The answer was a shoulder shrug. I guess that is the reason why they are where they are, and will continue to be struck every Friday and Saturday when the streets are full of drunks, and in the winter when the streets are plowed by large State trucks that throw the snow and other debris with force.

Stop trying to make North Providence seem like a Norman Rockwell painting. We all walk around with the wool you people have put over our eyes anyway, so who needs lights!