Palm Coast has notoriously and dangerously dark streets and roads. The darkness is a recurring complaint among residents.
On Tuesday, a plan submitted to the Palm Coast City Council would add streetlights to 23 miles of high-traffic, non-residential roads over the next five years, but at an estimated one-time cost of $637,000 just for Palm Coast’s portion of the construction, and an annual operating cost–for power–of $224,500 a year, once all 23 miles are completed.
Existing costs to the city–that is, to its taxpayers–for Palm Coast’s 3,000-some streetlights is $700,000 a year. So any additional street-lights not specifically requested by a homeowner will be an added cost to the city’s power bill.
The current council has made adding streetlights a priority, particularly after the deaths of two 16-year-old Matanzas High School students, one of whom was walking with a friend on pitch-dark Lakeview Boulevard at the north end of Belle Terre, and another, Kelvin Smith, killed in a hit-and-run as he rode his bike on Old Kings Road in the F Section. The crashes took place within nine weeks of each other, on the last day of 2016 and on March 2, 2017. Streetlights for years had not been a priority for prior councils.
The 6,700-foot segment of Lakeview Boulevard from London Drive to Matanzas Woods Parkway that proved fatal to 16-year-old Michelle Taylor finally got a sidewalk this year, and in January will get some 44 streetlights. The construction cost to the city will be $50,000, the monthly power bill and maintenance will be $844, or $10,128 a year.
A 3,200-foot segment on Belle Terre Parkway, from Pine Coast Parkway to Pine Lakes Parkway, is also ready for a string of 39 lights at a cost to the city of $23,000, and a recurring monthly cost of $748. That design is on Florida Power and Light’s schedule now, with construction expected in 2019.
On Tuesday, the Lassiter Transportation Group, the consultant the city hired to study its lighting configurations, presented a list of 20 projects (including the two about to be done), broken down into groups of four over the next five years, totaling those 23 miles to be lit up. They were ranked based on criteria such as traffic volume, night-time crashes, roadway type, presence of sidewalks, and so on.
The consultant is recommending adding lights to various segments of Belle Terre Parkway, Seminole Woods Boulevard (also the scene of a fatal crash involving a 15 year old boy, Kirt Smith, killed by a passing car as Smith rode his bike at night in 2011, as there was no sidewalk then), Sesame and Citation Boulevards (also crash-prone areas of Seminole Woods), East Hampton Boulevard, Palm Harbor Drive, Forest Grove Drive, and Ravenwood Drive.
The consultant listed five additional recommendations for 12 more miles of lights beyond 2023 along stretches of Royal Palms Parkway, Rymfire Drive, Hargrove Grade, Palm Coast Parkway and Old Trail Boulevard. (See the full list below.)
“This is priorities based on what the consultant delivered,” Interim City Manager Beau Falgout said.He was looking for guidance from the council as to how and whether to proceed with the current list. Council members did not dispute the priority list: “We should rely on that science,” Mayor Milissa Holland said of the Lassiter Group’s criteria.
But Council member Nick Klufas was not yet committed to going ahead with the plan, beyond the two strings already in the works, because he wants an additional cost estimate: how much would it cost the city if it were to own and maintain the light poles–something few municipalities do. Klufas is interested in that approach because FPL does not allow so-called smart-poles that would allow a city or others to piggy-back some additional wares on the poles, whether it’s broadband systems or surveillance cameras or anything else. Klufas is focused on Palm Coast’s Fibernet system, the broadband network, and its potentially more versatile expansion.
City officials discouraged him, however, saying the city currently doesn’t have the manpower, equipment and talent to maintain a network of light poles, as FPL does. But the lighting master plan will await a new estimate of costs should Palm Coast own and maintain new light poles. The $637,000 price tag for the five-year plan is only Palm Coast’s share of capital costs, Falgout stressed, with FPL paying the rest.
Even if Palm Coast were to go own some poles, however, it would then end up with spotty ownership of some poles along some stretches, with FPL owning the rest–unless the city was ready to take full ownership of all poles along major roadways–a likely colossal cost.
The five-year plan is below.
“What are they waiting for?”
How about consideration of the initial and long term costs? On top of that, some of us moved here to avoid having light pollution on every single block, and enjoy seeing stars and planets in the sky at night.
A definite pass for me.
IF you decide to light the NON residential areas first, YOU are fools. Why is it I can get a light installed in less than two weeks on my utility pole, and it will only cost 35 bucks a month.
Yeah!!! About time! I would however add Belle Terre from Palm Coast Parkway clear to Hwy 100. All heavily driven through streets should be given priority, in addition to all areas around schools and school routes. Good start!!
Finally! We will be able to see when driving at night. It’s about time. Thank you Palm coast Mayor and city Commissioners. Sidewalks and roadwork next? I hope so
Michael Cocchiola says
Good. It’s the price we pay for safety and security in our city.
Bring ’em on!!!!!
To HMMM I am fortunate to have moved to a street where a couple of neighbors have their own street lights, so the road is not totally black. I can sit on my back porch or stand in my front yard and see all the stars I want on a cloudless night, The lights aren’t that bright and are aimed down towards the street. And there should definately be the correct amount of street lights on well traveled roads and if you feel that a decent amount of street lights will will block your view of the stars when you’re driving, the you are an accident waiting for a place to happen because a driver’s eyes should be on the road and surroundings, Not looking up into the sky. As far as residential street lights are concerned, they wouldn’t have to put one in front of every house–that would be too close, Maybe every two houses and one on the corner of each intersecting street . The more a street is lit the safer it is and also a deterrent to thieves and thugs running around in the dark looking for trouble.
I have lived in the F section for 18 years (north old kings road) there are only (3) street lights on the 31/2 mile stretch of road. ITS ABOUT TIME the city officials finally approved something to help our community and for our safety. Old kings road has seen its share of life loss that seems to be brushed aside when determining street lights and side walks.
I have lived in cities where the light pollution is unreal – one can barely see the moon when it’s full! When I moved here I was impressed that Flagler County, unlike Volusia, had actual night skies where one could see all the stars, satellites, ufos, planes, rocketships, etc. IF lights go up on main busy streets, I hope they are few and far between, and are covered at the top so as to shine down only on the streets so we don’t have to suffer the light pollution of Daytona Beach or Ormond Beach or Saint Augustine.
What is the status of this project?? I’ve seen no progress on Belle Terre at all where it is sorely needed.