Upper Arlington officials plan to spruce up a primary meeting place for city business and community gatherings, starting with replacing the original lighting system.

The soft lighting in Upper Arlington City Council chambers is outdated, city officials say.

Thus, council voted unanimously Oct. 9 to approve a $74,366 contract with Lighting Systems of Columbus to upgrade a system that's been in place since the Upper Arlington Municipal Center was built in 1972 and replace it with LED fixtures and bulbs.

"It does not produce enough overall light or flexibility for different uses in that room, such as for overhead presentations, and creates a lot of shadowy areas," said Emma Speight, Upper Arlington community affairs director. "Additionally, the system is not energy-efficient and is hard to maintain, with some components failing."

With a 10-percent contingency built in, a standard procedure for most public contracts, the cost of the project could rise to as much as $81,802.

However, Speight and Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley said the upgrades are needed. Given they'll be more efficient, the new lights should use less energy, but Speight said the city staff doesn't have an estimate of the potential savings.

"The replacement lighting system will use LED lights, creating both up and down lighting to better illuminate the room overall," she said.

In addition to housing council's regular meetings, typically held twice a month, numerous other city boards and commissions conduct public meetings in council chambers. The room also sometimes is used for community events and public forums not sponsored by the city.

In an Oct. 9 staff report to council, Ralley said the city has spent several years researching how it could replace existing flood lamp fixtures in council chambers.

He said the LED installation will take place "around the existing room schedule," and future improvements are likely on the way.

"Concurrent with these changes ... staff is looking at seating and carpeting options that would allow a more flexible use of the space for meetings and other special events," Ralley said.