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Village electric crew members Dan Mayenschein (in bucket) Chris Hamilton and Jane Hamilton installed one of the three new streetlights on the north end of Xenia Avenue on Monday. (Photo by Diane Chiddister)

Village electric crew members Dan Mayenschein (in bucket) Chris Hamilton and Jane Hamilton installed one of the three new streetlights on the north end of Xenia Avenue on Monday. (Photo by Diane Chiddister)

A new lighting look downtown

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Villagers who venture downtown this week — and since it’s Street Fair, that means most of us — may notice a new addition on Xenia Avenue. On Monday, the Village electric crew finished installing three street lamps that add a new look to the north end of downtown.

The new lights “will bring better light, better coverage and add some character” to downtown, Village Manager Laura Curliss said this week.

The lights, which have a distinctive “railroady” look that ties in to the historical village train station, completes the first stage of the Xenia Avenue streetscape renovation that began last summer.

The three new lights replace a single light that was removed during the sidewalk repair work that started at Dino’s Cappucinos and continued north past The Winds to the corner of Xenia Avenue and Corry Streets, an area deemed the most important to repair due to sidewalk buckling created by the Bradford pear trees that were removed last summer.

Following the tree removal, this spring the street crew put down new sidewalks and new street trees were planted. The new street lamps are the last stage of this section of the streetscape project on Xenia Avenue.

The electric crew will move next to Dayton Street, where 18 of the railroad inspired lights will be installed on Dayton and Corry streets. The lights were a part of the 2007 Dayton Street renovation, long delayed, which was designed by landscape architect Roger Beal, according to Curliss.

However, there are no more railroad streetlights planned for Xenia Avenue at this time, Curliss said.

Any renovations for the west side of Xenia Avenue were put on hold after last summer’s contentious debate over the downtown streetscape changes. During that debate, many villagers protested the removal of the 30-year-old pear trees and in August Council voted to move ahead only with the first stage of the streetscape project, which was repairing “only the most egrergious sections of the sidewalk,”according to Council member Karen Wintrow. That’s the section of sidewalk recently completed, along with the newly planted trees and new streetlights.

Council voted to put the second part of the Xenia Avenue renovation on hold until the new trees had time to grow, so that villagers could have an idea of how the new streetscape will look, Council President Judith Hempfling said this week. And because Council is currently dealing with several significant decisions, including how best to source Village water, the downtown renovation is on the back burner.

“Right now it’s not on anyone’s agenda,” Curliss said.

The total cost of the 22 streetlights purchased so far at about $4,400 apiece will be about $96,800, which will come out of the Village Electric Fund.

Curliss had introduced an ambitious Xenia Avenue streetscape renovation last summer in conjunction with long-planned renovations to downtown sidewalks. The original plan proposed included a “bump-out” space in front of The Emporium, smaller parking spaces, new streetlights and new street trees, given the age and condition of the Bradford pears. At the time it made sense to make these changes at the same time that construction on the sidewalks was taking place, Curliss said.

The need to replace the current streetlights became clear after a light vendor performed a photometric study of downtown street to determine what sort of lights, and how many, would be appropriate for downtown Yellow Springs, Curliss said. The vendor advised that the current lights were too high and too diffused.

“The current lights are more on a highway scale,” Curliss said. “They’re too big for downtown.”

In contract, the new lights focus more on the sidewalk, and light isn’t lost going up into the sky, as it is now. And the new lights are LED, which are more energy efficient than the induction lights of the current streetlamps.

The new lights were getting mixed reviews on Monday as Dan Mayenschein, Chris Hamilton and Jane Hamilton of the Village Electric Crew finished up the work putting in the lights. Amanda Bush gave the lights a thumbs-up, describing them as “very Euro, old-fashioned and quaint. I approve.”

Harvey Paige appreciates the new lights’ energy efficiency.

“I’m glad they have LEDS,” he said, “but I wish they had solar panels on top.”

Cathy Price regrets that the lights’ design seems more in sync with Oakwood than Yellow Springs.

“How soon will it be before we completely look like The Greene?” she said of the changes. “But then we get used to anything.”

Sue Bothwell, however, said, “I think they look wonderful.”

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