The street lights on Litzsinger Road, looking west. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

The streetlights on Litzsinger Road, looking west. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Residents’ complaints lead to approval of dimmers

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

Looking west on Litzsinger Road. The photo was taken in February.

Looking west on Litzsinger Road. The photo was taken in February.

The new streetlights on Litzsinger Road will be dimmed in response to residents’ complaints that they’re too bright. A construction change order to install dimmers was approved by the Brentwood Board of Aldermen at its May 16 meeting at City Hall. The project will cost the city $9,825.

The dimmers will be installed on all Litzsinger streetlights between Brentwood Boulevard and McKnight Road, and controlled from a central location by the Brentwood Public Works Department.

The lights were installed early this year as part of the city’s Litzsinger Road improvement project, which includes upgrades to the storm sewer, sidewalk and gutters. It is 80 percent federally funded.

The change order request was brought to the meeting by Alderman Andy Leahy on behalf of the Public Works Committee, which he chairs. He said “five to six” Litzsinger Road residents have complained about the lights being too bright. City Administrator Bola Akande said the complaints came from residents both east and west of High School Drive.

Alderman Andy Leahy.

Alderman Andy Leahy.

Akande said the city first looked into installing shields on the lights. But the engineering firm on the project, Horner Shifrin, and the electrical contractor, Gerstner Electric, recommended that “dimmers would be a better fit.”

The Missouri Department of Transportation refused the city’s request for it to pay for at least a portion of the cost of the change order.

“They have turned it down because the current lights meet the specification on the architectural drawings,” said Leahy.

Added Akande, “This is a change that the city is now making after the preliminary design, after we solicited input from residents through multiple town hall type meetings. Therefore they [MoDOT] do not believe [the change order] warranted being part of the total project cost.”

Brentwood City Administrator Bola Akande, at the May 2 Board of Aldermen meeting.

Brentwood City Administrator Bola Akande, at the May 2 Board of Aldermen meeting.

The expenditure was approved in a 6-2 vote of the aldermen, with Leahy and Kathy O’Neill dissenting. Voting “yes” were David Dimmitt, Tom Kramer, Steve Lochmoeller, David Plufka, Sunny Sims and Keith Slusser.

“I would prefer we stay with the engineer’s original recommendation … and leave it the way it is,” said Leahy. “Because I do not believe it’s justifiable under even the six total requests to spend just shy of $10,000 to start playing with personal feelings with how you like lighting. Because I don’t think you’ll ever make anybody happy then.”

But Alderman Dimmitt, whose Ward 1 includes residents on Litzsinger, sided with those making the complaints. He said he had talked to some of them.

“I’d venture to say that if any of us had a streetlight constructed outside our house and it was bright enough to … cause us to shut out blinds at sundown … and even at that point it still illuminates the inside of our house enough that interior lighting isn’t necessary, I’d be willing to bet you that everybody up here would be upset about that. … I’m not going to question whether that happens or not. I’m going to take the people at their word that it is a problem.”

Alderman David Dimmitt.

Alderman David Dimmitt.

Alderman Kramer pressed Akande to explain why the dimmers weren’t installed in the first place. She replied that “this is the type of lights that the electrical engineers feel would be appropriate for this area.” She added, “We had at least three opportunities for residents who live along Litzsinger Road to meet with the engineers. We made adjustments to the preliminary design based on the feedback. As a matter of fact, what we heard loud and clear was a need for lights. People wanted to see who was walking by their house in the evening.”

However, Akande later confirmed that residents did not know the brightness of the lights until after they were installed.

The project’s timetable was not specified. It will be performed by Gerstner Electric and paid for through the city’s capital improvement account.

Alderman Tom Kramer at the May 2 board meeting.

Alderman Tom Kramer at the May 2 board meeting.