Village of the Arts obtains $120,000 for improved lighting

BRADENTON -- The wheels of government often turn slowly, but are turning steadily for Village of the Arts residents and business owners who have long expressed a desire for more lighting to enhance safety and for businesses to be allowed to remain open later at night.

City officials have approved allocating $120,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for village lighting. The village Ad Hoc Committee discussed options Thursday with city staff.

After a presentation from Jim McLellan, manager of the city Engineering Department, about options, the committee endorsed the city buying 23 new antique-style light poles and retrofitting 125 existing poles with light-emitting diode fixtures, which should brighten a portion of 13th Street West.

McLellan said if additional funds become available next year, the city can focus on other low-light areas in the village.

Public Works Director Claude Tankersley said the city needs about three months to find, purchase and receive new light poles. The lighting project could be completed by the end of 2015, he said.

Residents asked about adding solar lighting to signs at village gateways. City officials said it may be a problem because the signs are near state roads, which could require Florida Department of Transportation approval.

Planning and Community Development Director Tim Polk said he would look into state requirements, but the city has no issue with private property owners using solar lighting in those areas.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.