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.
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.