Village engineer Louis McFarland told Marble Cliff Village Council last week the community's streetlight system is in serious need of upgrading.
"We have a lot of streetlights in the village that aren't on concrete foundations," McFarland said at council's Feb. 18 meeting. "We have a variety of heads and illuminaries. We have a variety of poles and the wiring in the system is old.
"I've had covers of some of the light poles off from time to time working on projects and it looked like a bird's nest in there because of the old set of wires," he said. "We need to start addressing our streetlights a bit every year or two so we can systematically get them replaced."
The 15 streetlights running along the village's section of Fifth Avenue should be taken care of first, McFarland said.
Several years ago, the village looked at developing an overall plan for replacing streetlights to give the fixtures uniformity in the poles and illuminaries and to make sure they are all on foundations, he said. The plan included a proposal to connect all the streetlights to one of two master controllers that would be placed underground in the village.
There are a variety of pole types and styles on Fifth Avenue, McFarland said.
He suggested the village consider using a standard black steel or fiberglass pole with a traditional globe on the village's stretch of Fifth Avenue.
"It's a big project," McFarland said. "It would probably cost a couple hundred thousand dollars or so."
Fifth Avenue is the "gateway" to the village and many people see the village only as they travel along the roadway, Village Administrator Bill Johannes said.
If Fifth Avenue is addressed first, at least three of the existing poles could be removed and set aside for future use on other roadways in the village, which have similar streetlight poles, Fiscal Officer Cindy McKay said.
"The goal is to upgrade our light fixtures so we have easier repairs when necessary," Mayor Kent Studebaker said. "We also want to have consistency of light bulbs so we can have the same light (throughout) the village and the same resources to use to put it all together."
The aesthetics of the light poles also is important, but probably third on the list in order of importance, he said.
The streetlight issue is similar to the question the village faced a number of years ago regarding its sewers, Studebaker said.
"It's a decision point of whether we want to continue to Band-aid everything to a point where it just begins to fall apart completely or if we want to be more proactive," he said.
The streetlight system is repaired when needed, "but we have sections of our system the electricians can't figure out what's going on," Studebaker said. "If we (make improvements) now and do it right, we may be saving headaches down the road.
"We are fortunate we have a little bit of a bump in our reserves so we can do projects like this if we spread them out," he said.