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Hoyt Street resident: Lighting plan appears vindictive

Published 4:20 pm, Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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As part of the Board of Selectmen's promise to increase pedestrian safety along town roads, the proposed installation of 17 new street lamps on Hoyt Street for some residents is an excessive amount, and the decision to start with Hoyt Street appears "vindictive."

"I was asked yesterday by neighbors if your action is vindictive (as it was being perceived that way,)" wrote Hoyt Street resident Holly Schulz in an email to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson on June 20.

Stevenson responded to Schulz saying she was trying to address Schulz's continued wishes for improved public safety. Schulz has been vocal about the need for sidewalks, more specifically along Hoyt Street for commuters to use while walking to the Talmadge Hill train station in New Canaan

"I am piloting the lights for your neighborhoods' benefit and input," Stevenson responded via email on June 20. "I would hope this pleases you all. You will be able to give me feedback that will inform the final project. Is this not fair? I don't perceive my decisions and actions as vindictive. Actually, I believe I'm being responsive."

Schulz responded, "If this is the case, then why have you not added 70 watt street lamps to every electric pole along every stretch of road deemed in need of sidewalks throughout town? After-all, you had ranked the Hoyt Street project seventh in importance back in February. Why aren't the residents in the areas you chose to consider as having a more pressing need for sidewalks already the recipients of the same street lighting you have chosen to force on our neighborhood?"

Recently, flashing signs, which alert motorists that pedestrians walk along the Hoyt Street, were installed.

"I don't think that the signs fix anything, but I do like that the motorists are cognizant of pedestrians," said Schulz during public comment at the June 17 selectmen meeting.

During public comment when speaking about the potential excessiveness of lights on every pole, Schulz also questioned if there was any other place in town that had as many streetlights. Stevenson responded during the selectmen's discussion that a similar situation existed on Middlesex Road, from the Stamford border to the intersection with Hoyt Street.

"The intention was so that the pathway would allow for lighting along the way," Stevenson said. "We didn't want to have gaps in lighting, and this plan that you see, while it may seem arbitrary, was a plan that was put together by (Connecticut Light & Power) and our internal public works engineering staff."

However, lights on every pole is not what the Hoyt Street residents want, according to Schulz.

"You independently created a lighting plan and presented it to the Board of Selectmen back in January 2012," Schulz said in the June 20 email. "You were given immediate detailed feedback that your proposal seemed excessive and that we wanted the northern Hoyt Street neighborhood to be consulted on an adjusted plan prior to implementation. I personally reminded you of this request earlier this year.

"Now we find out that without presenting an amended plan or informing the neighborhood you personally requested CL&P back in April to add lights to every pole from Leeds Lane to Barringer Road along Hoyt Street. Your plan will triple the lighting in the neighborhood. Despite at least seven residents along this stretch having contacted you directly asking for you to reduce the intensity to no more than a light on every-other-pole (as it is unprecedented in town to have street lights on every consecutive pole), you have proceeded on the northern-most stretch."

According to an email from Stevenson to Schulz, CL&P will install four of the streetlights on four consecutive poles nearest the train station and would await feedback from the neighborhood before continuing with the rest of the project.

"I would hope you'll deliver this news directly to all of those who contacted you this week asking for you to NOT place lights on every pole (as this is unprecedented in town, and as we've been saying since Jan 2012 is not desired or warranted)," replied Schulz.

During the June 17 meeting, Schulz provided a lighting plan to the selectmen that she had marked up, removing a majority of the proposed lights.

Stevenson said she would discuss Schulz's suggestions with those involved in the project.

"Short of sidewalks, which we know are not happening in this budget cycle, this is the promise that we made to the Darien commuters who walk to the Talmadge Hill train station in New Canaan -- is that we would improve street lighting and that we would install pedestrian walking signs. So I am attempting to act on my promises."

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews