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Historic Streetlight Project Proposed for Arthur Avenue

While the proposal has overwhelming neighborhood support, a few neighbors aren’t too happy with the project. The proposal was introduced to Lakewood City Council on Monday.

A plan to install 14 “historically correct” streetlamps on Arthur Avenue was introduced to Lakewood City Council on Monday night.

If OK’d, the $124,500 project would replace the nine “cobra-head” lights with those resembling early 1900s lamps along the street from Hilliard Road to Detroit Avenue.

Organizers say it will beautify the neighborhood, highlight the historic homes and could potentially raise property values.

The catch?

Arthur Avenue residents would shoulder the cost of the project, at an estimated $1,800 each. 

That doesn’t sit well with about 20 residents in the neighborhood. A couple of those homeowners addressed city council Monday.

“$1,800 feels a lot different to me than it does some of my neighbors,” said Jennifer Elaban. “We have lights on our street that work. I have $1,800. I do not need my neighbors to tell me how to spend it.” 

The organizers got 48 residents — or 70 percent of the neighborhood — to sign a petition to support the proposal.

The goal was to get a majority.

“We’ve got a fantastic street — a historic street,” said Sean McDermott, an Arthur Avenue resident and organizer of the proposal. “We’re just a few steps away from being an absolutely great street as far as aesthetics. This will take us to the next level.”

Several supporters of the project addressed council on Monday and apologized for any financial hardship or hard feelings the proposal may cause.

Overall, most residents in the neighborhood support the measure. 

“As a property owner, I see this as an investment in my personal property,” said Patty Ryan, an Arthur Avenue resident and the director of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. 

Organizers got together more than two years ago to discuss the idea. The purpose, McDermott said, was to thoughtfully consider the impact on the neighborhood.

“We’ve really tried to do our homework and take it slow,” McDermott added. “This is not forced. You don’t get to 70 percent of people to agree to do this without it being a great project.”

The proposal would replace the existing street lighting system — including the removal of the nine existing light fixtures and overhead wires. 

New electrical conduits and wiring would be installed underground.

The lights themselves — while resembling early 1900s lamps — would be high-efficiency LED lights.

“It’ll look like a park,” said McDermott. “It will look beautiful. It will really bring some of the historical nature of this neighborhood. We’re losing our trees and this is a way to bring back some of that historical aspect.” 

Arthur Avenue resident Todd Mesek told council that, initially, he didn’t support the proposal, but organizers were able to bring the cost down from $3,000 to $1,800.

“I respect the dissenting neighbors,” he said. “But I think this street is beautiful and worthy of investment.”

The overall cost of the project is $124,500. Divided by 68 homes, the cost would be an estimated $1,831 per homeowner, if paid up front. However, homeowners will have the option to make payments, spread out over 10 years, at about $19 per month. 

The Lakewood charter requires the city to pay for 2 percent of any project, so the city’s share would be about $2,500.

If approved, the city would maintain the cost of maintaining the lights. The project would begin in July and take only a few weeks to complete.

McDermott said that the last thing that organizers wanted was to “create a divide” in the neighborhood.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to be neighbors,” he said. “We’re going to have block parties and remain friends.”

Council president Brian Powers and councilman Tom Bullock proposed the measure.

“The project would beautify this historic street and increase the property values of homes in this neighborhood,” Bullock told council.

“This is an important project, and a complex process.”

The proposal was referred to council’s committee of the whole. Law director Kevin Butler said an ordinance would be the “final step of the legislative process,” following a discussion on the assessment amount. 

Council members urged residents to attend the meetings to discuss the measure further.

Andy Krotseng March 19, 2013 at 01:25 PM
I'd like to see that on Summit.
Wm. Fraunfelder March 19, 2013 at 01:42 PM
It's a dangerous proposition when neighbors, with the NIMBY support of council, can tell others how to "beautify" their property. This mess reeks of Progress, for the sake of all - neighborhood peace, thoughtfulness, and civility. Passing the school levy will go a lot farther to maintaining/increasing property values than putting what amounts to glorified LED flashlights on every fourth lawn.
judith szentkiralyi March 19, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Very well said; W. Fraunfelder.
Pat Ballasch March 19, 2013 at 03:35 PM
How about fund raising so the project can be paid for with cash. This looks like a good project for a homeowners association. The good thing is, projects like this seldom require an immediate solution. Best of luck to all the residents.
Steve March 19, 2013 at 05:12 PM
$125.000 and thats the best project Arthur Ave. could come up with? They could put up tea lites on everyone's lawn for the next 30+ years, like they already do. Next thing you know, they will want to close the street to thru traffic, owners only, to cut down on the polution for their street. Why not donate all that money to help others restore their homes here. Feeling kind today??? We got enough light polution here in Lakewood as it is.
Wm. Fraunfelder March 19, 2013 at 05:30 PM
I fear this may introduce to Lakewood a Homeowners' Association mentality to certain streets/neighborhoods. Lakewood has always relied-on its' housing-stock to advance its' municipal 'aesthetic.' As both Steve and Pat have alluded-to, we should be focusing on the bigger picture, and not worrying so much about how things appear from the vantage-point of our own front porches.
Lkwd44107 March 19, 2013 at 06:23 PM
"Next thing you know, they will want to close the street to thru traffic, owners only, etc..." Good point Steve! They have a no left turn onto Arthur from the library already but it's not enforceable by the Lakewood Police. I turn left every time I leave the library and enjoy the street with it's wonderful pothole free surface. All I can say is as I travel from point A to point B in Lakewood, Arthur will be greatly used.
Timothy Carroll March 19, 2013 at 07:05 PM
We bought and installed these same lights on Maple Cliff two years, not a cheap project. Several other parts of the city are looking into getting these types of lights for their neighborhoods.
m.z.1 March 19, 2013 at 08:47 PM
If the 48 residence who want this so badly chipped in an additional 750.00 they could get it passed, paid for and done before the end of summer. Come on you guys pony up. If this is how you want to spend your money, surely an additional 750.00 isn't going to break you.
ian king March 19, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Well said Mr. Fraunfelder, I have read quite recently a lot of comments about the "Lakewood Look" - just what is that? Does it change from block to block? I think if Lakewood wants to be known for having a "certain distinctive look", than why not make these lights the norm across the city? Otherwise, you will end up with visual discontinuity - like what we now have in front of the new DrugMart on Detroit. Why are 1900 era lamps on this block? It makes no sense with the architecture of this block or with the rest of the lighting on Detroit. When you start to "piecemeal" what is voted on by residents of a particular block in isolation from the surrounding blocks, rather than an attractive/identifiable master plan for the whole town - a true "Lakewood Look" - , you will end up with a very strange looking Lakewood, that will relate only to its immediate block and those reisdents, and not to the ambience of the city as a whole. I am wondering if this is more about improving real estate values, than a desire to create a more "historic" street.
angelo March 19, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Know what else would look good? If everyone on the street drove an Escalade. Wouldn't that look cool? Maybe the 70% who can afford it can make the city make everyone on the street buy an Escalade! Yeah, who cares if they can afford it or not or who cares if they have other plans for their money. They'll have a cool new car and the neighborhood will look better. Instead of abuse by the majority or another Big Government dictate how about following m.z.1's advice. It's the only thing that makes sense in this discussion. Homeowners who object should contact The Institute For Justice if this is rammed down their throats.
Barbara Greene March 20, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Sorry, but I don't want any of my tax money going to beautify one residential street. If the neighbors want to foot the entire cost of the project and all future maintenance, knock yourselves out.
m.z.1 March 20, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Another point to consider on these quaint lampposts is upkeep, maintenance, replacement costs after a police chase ends up taking out a few of them (or a storm), vandalism and insurance, etc.......Wake up people! This is public property - if private citizens want upgraded street lights on their street only, then they need to privatize each of the posts and personally retain all financial responsibility related to the "historically correct" street light for eternity. This financial responsibility would need be included their deeds, as a mandatory homeowners association (ie. street light fund) dues.
niki jai newkirk March 20, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Why doesn't the city take that money that will spruce up one neighborhood and spread it around and fix the streets and pot holes. Start with the pothole on the corner of 117 and Franklin. Now that sounds like a plan that would work for all the residents of Lakewood.
Laura March 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM
You WILL be paying for this project. The city charter mandates that the city pay 2% of the project cost. Guess where that $ is coming from? Tax dollars. The city also is required to maintain it. More tax dollars.
Mike Radocaj April 06, 2013 at 02:34 AM
As a proud homeowner on Northland I applaud the initiative that the Arthur homeowners have taken. They have eliminated studies that would typically be at the cost of the city, if they would have approached this in a different fashion. The cost to the city is a drop in the bucket considering the fact it will have new light fixtures requiring very little, if any, maintenance for the next few years while at the same time increasing the overall value of the homes thus increasing the property tax base. Can anyone imagine if the property owners on Madison, for example, were to band together and present a similar project to the city how much our city would imporove. As for the comment on repairing potholes with this money. How many potholes do you think can be repaired with $2,500? Really people, let's keep the city moving forward and increase our property values.
ArthurAve April 16, 2013 at 03:23 AM
The first time I heard of the Arthur Ave lighting project was in 2004 from City Council member Ryan Demro. This project along with other projects paid for by the residents to beautify Lakewood were shot down many times over the last 8 years. This is a carry over from the West End Deal, remember the West End Deal when Lakewood was on 60 Minutes and we learned we all have blighted homes. I felt bullied by more than one committee when said "Can't you afford $20 per month" and that the project was legal. Sure gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. After 8 years in the making I thought it was a dead issue, boy was I surprise when I was told they had enough votes. This issue will most certainly divide the street just like the West End Deal divided Lakewood and hurt the community for years to come.

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