I live on Oyster Bay Avenue, ground zero for the city’s romance with LED street lights. I am glad the City Council paused the progress on this good idea done badly.
City staff presented the street-light retrofit project in the spirit of “what’s not to like” — reduce energy use, save money and increase nighttime safety. It seems it was a given that more light means safer conditions. It seems no one thought that the bright blue-white LEDs would spill over into homes and yards. Or that the glare would be a real challenge for many of us and compromise our safety on the streets at night.
Neighbors and I were shocked when the LEDs appeared in May. There was general head-scratching and even some anger. Now, the city has installed five test lights on Oyster Bay and asks residents to complete an online survey by Sunday. The online map identifies them as Nos. 11, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (east to west). No. 10 on Astoria Street and No. 9 on Magellan Street appear to be unchanged.
People are visiting our street, gazing at the lights and trying to figure out how to complete the city’s survey. Here is what I have heard: All the test lamps are of a warmer color and that’s good. Some appear brighter than others though different sites make it hard to be sure. All are still too bright if you look up. Perhaps some of the lights have shielding or more could be done with shielding. Everyone hates the blue-white lights. I have heard nothing positive.
I would love to see a return to the warm glow of the old street lights. If it must be LEDs, I urge the City Council to go with the lowest output. I think that is light No. 8, the farthest to the west of the five test poles. And, please, provide shielding in every case where a resident requests it.