Mar 20, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterThe Riverton City Council is debating the purchase of decorative light poles for the city, and the pricetag might be lower than expected.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation has scheduled a reconstruction of South Federal Boulevard, from immediately south of the Monroe Avenue intersection to Washington Avenue, that will begin in 2013.
WYDOT requested the city execute three contracts related to these improvements including the sewer and water utilities, seven decorative light poles at no cost to the city, and the installation of 17 decorative light poles in conjunction with the project.
At the council's March 6 meeting, public services director Bill Urbigkit described the background of the project to the council and said the proposed agreements were much better than what had been anticipated at the outset.
"We originally thought that adding the 17 additional light poles to cover the rest of the project would estimate somewhere around $300,000," Urbigkit said. "WYDOT has agreed to arrangements that our cost is only 9.51 percent coming out to $21,000, which is a really good bargain. I encourage the council to seize the day with this particular deal we are receiving from WYDOT."
Councilman Richard Gard said he was opposed to spending money on light poles that would cost the city more money.
"At some point, we need to stop spending the money on these pretty green light poles," Gard said. "We have Main Street illuminated, and we have paid for that debt, which is why it makes no sense to me to put in additional lights and spend hundreds of dollars on new lights. I really don't think people walk under the lights and think to themselves that they are standing under a pretty green light."
When it was discussed at the WYDOT grading plan review meeting in November, Warpness said light poles were among the amenities people said they would like.
"I felt like we had already agreed to have the pretty green poles to go the whole length of Federal, and from the purely economical standpoint, I don't disagree with you," Warpness said. "But I think trying to improve our community the best we can is something we need to consider, and I think this is a great opportunity to do so."
Gard said he was in the same meeting as Warpness and did not hear the same consensus.
"Maybe from where you were sitting you heard it, but I didn't hear it," Gard said. "I realize I am only one vote, but if this deal comes off, we are going to pay dearly for it. ... This isn't money from heaven, this is taxpayer's money. I don't need to beat a dead horse, but this is not a unanimous vote."
Councilwoman Diana Mahoney said she enjoyed the light poles and felt that people in the community do stop and notice them.
"I remember going to numerous towns that had similar light poles, and they were very attractive," Mahoney said. "If we can get the light poles at this price, then hopefully we can get the next 17 at this price, and I am in favor of that."
Councilwoman Mary Ellen Christensen said she also felt the light poles were something the community enjoyed. She said she heard residents say they really enjoyed the light poles while she was going door to door getting donations for Christmas lights for Main Street.
"I think it is an aesthetic value that really makes everything look nice," Christensen said. "I think adding these light poles would make it flow all through town."
Council members voted on the measure that would add light poles along South Federal Boulevard. Gard was the only member to vote against it.
In a statement Monday, mayor Ron Warpness stressed that no revenue from the added 1 percent sales taxes to be voted on in November would be used for the decorative light poles.
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