Champaign Council moves forward with standardized lighting plan

By Eric Heisig

The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a plan to standardize streetlights. The city plans to work with the University and the city of Urbana.

The plan calls for requesting proposals from manufacturers for street lights within the University District, which is bounded by University Avenue to the north, the IC/CR Railroad tracks to the west, Wright Street to the east and Gregory Drive to the south. Bruce Knight, city planning director, said the lighting design the city of Champaign chose when development for Green Street began has become increasingly expensive, and there are other ways to get the same feel while paying less.

Knight said while the poles will be slightly different, it will be difficult to tell.

“You will not be able to notice the change, but it will be less expensive,” Knight said.

The project would only be used for additional lights, and the plan is not to replace any of the existing lights, Knight said. Still, the ultimate goal is to create a unified appearance in the University District, and the lighting designs will most likely be used when more work is done on Green Street.

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One of the concerns brought up at the meeting was that the new designs would lead to more light pollution. Stuart Levy, Champaign resident, said that full cutoff lighting would be the best option for the city to take.

“They use less energy, and they need less light to work,” Levy said. “You won’t be wasting light. I am concerned to see that this proposal for designs is far from optimal.”

However, Tom Burtness, who is working with Champaign, Urbana and the University as a consultant on the project, said one of the proposals being requested from manufacturers is full cutoff lighting, and that in many areas of the University District, there are street lights with close to full cutoff fixtures.