The West Tisbury historic district will soon be seen in a new but still familiar light.
On Monday the town historic district commission voted to save all the existing so-called admiral hat fixtures and replace all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps in the district, striking a balance between preserving the historic look of the town and allowing for more energy efficiency.
The vote followed a selectmen’s meeting last week where Cape Light Compact representatives Kevin Galligan and Maggie Downey gave a presentation on the compact’s municipal LED streetlight project. Ms. Downey told selectmen that to date, about 13,000 lights are in Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and on the Cape. Both representatives gave an overview of the project including savings estimates, next steps and a proposed schedule. They also brought a light-emitting diode (LED) fixture. The meeting room lights were turned off and the LED lights turned on twice to demonstrate the brightness of the new proposed LEDs.
In April, the selectmen voted to purchase 53 streetlights from NStar in order to be part of the streetlight project. The switch to LED streetlights will save nearly $4,000 in operating costs, Mr. Galligan said. The town would save on both electricity and maintenance costs, he said.
But saving money wasn’t the primary concern for some residents of West Tisbury, who expressed concern that the new look — modern and bright — would take away from the historical feel of the town. In late April West Tisbury resident David Stanwood brought that concern before the selectmen. “If suddenly the town wakes up and the lights we’ve been using are suddenly gone, I think you’re going to find a lot of squawking,” he said.
Mr. Stanwood reiterated his worries at the selectmen’s meeting last week. “I’m concerned about the loss of aesthetic value . . . these fixtures are part of our heritage and part of our history,” he said.
Cape Light Compact representatives said it would not be possible to keep the admiral hat light fixtures and change the incandescent bulbs to CFLs as planned, because the old fixtures were not compatible with the compact screw-ins.
At the historic district commission meeting Monday, letters of concern were read aloud.
But there was also new information: the old fixtures are in fact compatible with CFLs.
“Originally they didn’t know if they could keep the old fixtures, but now it turns out they can keep the old ones,” said commission member Nancy Dole.
The commission voted unanimously to retain the existing old fixtures in the historic district and replace the incandescent bulbs with CFLs.
A vote was also taken to replace three existing mercury vapor fixtures with admiral hats and CFL bulbs if possible. If it is not possible, the commission voted to replace the fixtures with the proposed new LED fixtures with shields, as needed.
The question of what to do with 32 street lights outside of the district was addressed by the selectmen at their meeting Wednesday this week. The board voted to change the remaining streetlights with new LED fixtures. Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd will survey town streetlights to develop an audit of where bulbs need changing. After the audit is complete, the selectmen will also consider changing a handful of bulbs between North Road and the business district to CFL bulbs rather than LEDs.
In other business from last week, Kathy Logue will continue as town treasurer for the next three years following an appointment by the selectmen. The job was changed from elected to appointed this year. Kenneth Vincent was unanimously appointed to the personnel board.