Tuesday evening, Community Board 3 voted in favor of a proposal from the Lower East Side Business Improvement District to replace 28 street lights on Essex Street, between East Houston and Canal. The plan now goes to the Public Design Commission for approval.
Right now, there are several different kinds of lights sprinkled up and down Essex, including the antique-looking “bishop’s crook” models. Tim Laughlin, the BID’s director of policy & planning, said the city agreed that there’s not enough lighting on the wide and heavily traveled thoroughfare. The idea is to install 28 “WM light poles,” similar to the model pictured below. As part of the initiative, 18 “bishop’s crook” lights would be moved to side streets.
The project is expected to cost about $300,000. The funding comes from a 2009 safety & security grant from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. In three community board meetings, there was some opposition to the plan from Essex Street residents who did not want to lose the “bishop’s crook” fixtures. David Crane, chair of CB3’s transportation committee, acknowledged the concerns, but said the block association did not appear to represent a majority opinion in the neighborhood.
Linda Jones, a board member and leader of the Friends of Seward Park, argued in favor of brighter lights, especially on the stretch of Essex bordering the park. Another board member, Morris Faitelewicz, said he was very concerned that the new lights would become ideal resting spots for pigeons intent on terrorizing Lower East Side residents. Department of Transportation reps, struggling to maintain their composure, said they’d do what they could to mitigate the pigeon menace.
Laughlin hopes to take the plan to the Design Commission next month. Assuming the BID gets the go-ahead, it will probably be about a year before the new lights are installed.