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Town Weighs Upgrading All Field Lights

An upgrade to energy-efficient lights at three township parks would cost $635,000, according to acting manager Tom Merchel.

While it prepares to have several derelict lights at Jeff Young Memorial Field brought down, township council is weighing whether to spend several hundred thousand dollars to upgrade lighting at the rest of the town’s recreation venues.

Last month, Acting Township Manager Tom Merchel informed council six of the 20 poles at Jeff Young needed to be replaced immediately for safety reasons. He said the poles and lights had been installed in the late '70s or early '80s and had lasted “past their useful life.” They were weathered and cracked and at risk of falling.

Since then, two more poles have been added to the list. Merchel told council Monday it would cost $13,700 just to remove the eight poles and lights, based on a quote from Riggs Distler Construction.

To replace all 20 of the old lights at Jeff Young with new, more energy-efficient versions with metallic alloy poles would cost between $230,000-$290,000, he told council, quoting a price provided by lighting manufacturer Musco Lighting. By upgrading to energy-efficient technology—lights that operate off timers, for example—the township would also save between $55,000-82,000 over 25 years.

The quote from Musco also included a clause for free maintenance for 25 years.

Upgrading all the lights at Jeff Young, including the basketball and tennis courts, would cost about $405,000, with savings of $115,000 over 25 years, according to Musco. Upgrading the basketball and tennis court lights at Fullerton and Maple Dawson parks would cost between $100,000-$115,000, with savings of $20,000 and $92,000 respectively.

“What I was pushing for was for all the lights to be replaced,” said Merchel. “They’re all kind of around the same (age) … The last couple years we’ve had people come out and say they should come out and be replaced.”

Council didn’t decide Monday if or how many of the lights should be replaced, but did ask Merchel for more information.

He said he plans to get quotes on replacing all the lights from township engineers the Alaimo Group to give council a better idea of the cost of the project.

Voice of Reason September 13, 2011 at 09:45 PM
How did Mr. Coopers Rec task force miss this one?? Seams all the lacrosse and soccer Club influence in that task force were too focused on a luxury tournament venue with turf fields and new parking lots. They should have done what they were asked to do which was assessing the needs of all our Rec facilities and prioritize according to need. I think we need safe lighting before field turf, this is just another reason to scrap the “Kids Insinuative “
KJL September 13, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Voice - You are misguided in your comments and I suggest you attend this evening's Rec Advisory Committee Meeting. The acting Township Manager and the Rec Department Director will be in attendance and, as a concerned citizen and taxpayer, you can convey to them your concerns. I am sure they will assure you that it is not the repsonsibility of the VOLUNTEER task force to assure that light fixtures that are 50 feet above the ground are safe. However, you should know that a member of Mr. Cooper's Task Force was the catalyst behind the Township asking its lighting contractor to "relamp" the lights in question, as well as other lights in town. That is when the deteriorated condition of the poles was discovered.
wes biship September 14, 2011 at 12:53 AM
yo Voice, scrap the initiative.... and do what exactly? ignore more of our infrastructure and just wait til it breaks? the volunteers on all of these committees do a lot.. how about our paid staff looking at some of these things more than once every 30 years? we wouldnt need these task forces to play such an important role if we had serious capital management programs in place. stop with the class warfare, you cheapen an important discussion. my fields are used by the entire cross section of our town. how dare you
KJL September 14, 2011 at 01:26 AM
Let me see if I have this right, anonymous person, a Councilperson was aware of a dangerous condition at Jeff Young for the "past few months" but it wasn't until the Rec Director was contacted by a RAC member about some lights being out and a Public Works employee and vendor inspected it, was it deemd unsafe? Do I have that right? You had better hope that whatever firm insures the Township and mandates its Risk Management efforts doesn't get wind of that. And we have the "Rec Dept at our disposal"? Really? You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and are merely presenting a political agenda. I wish you well in your endeavor.
M.Verado September 14, 2011 at 02:00 AM
KJL, you have made your point many times, in many ways. I don't think for one moment that you are not dedicated to the cause of betterment. I respect you for that even if I do not completely agree with all that you support, but, Blew It makes a point. You stressed the efforts of an eighteen month study. In fairness, could you, or other members of the group have taken the time to at least give a glance toward possible issues that may exist at the other facilities during that time? Perhaps, you can understand why people would draw conclusions that your group is focused only in one direction. Volunteerism makes both friends and enemies.
KJL September 14, 2011 at 10:42 AM
MV - No good deed goes unpunished, right? It would be completely unfair of me to assert who would be expected to inspect all township facilities to assure that the facilities are safe and not in need of removal/replacement. That is a question better directed to the Twp Manager or to Council. However, for anyone to blame the condition of the lights at Jeff Young on RAC is ridiculous. Do you have any idea how much research/site visits/meetings with Twp staff and Club Presidents took place before the recomendations were made to Council this past Jan/Feb? Have you ever read the report about the condition of the fields and the basis for priortization and recommendations? You should read it before you and others suggest that RAC did not do all that could be expected. All Twp recreation facilities are part of KIDS and the Task Force did the every best it could to ascertain the needs of each facility. EVERY member of Council praised RAC for its efforts and for the report but now, when an unforeseen condition is encountered, the Report is no longer any good? Do you think it is reasonable to expect RAC to have inspected poles 50 feet in the air? Who was going to pay for that? All RAC could do was make recommendations to the Twp to check something, which one of the RAC members has done several times about the lights at JY for the past 13 months. Bottom line is that if the Twp doesn't invest in repairing its assets, the lights t JY are the tip of the iceberg.
Honest Joe Taxpayer September 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM
If ain't broke, don't fix it.
utr September 14, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Not piling on. I completely understand not inspecting lights 50' in the air. Did the RAC consider the age of the light standards in its study? Was there any contingency for any unexpected repairs in the KIDS proposal?
The Situation September 14, 2011 at 04:47 PM
When a pole or light comes down on a kid at the field while the rest play on their brand new plastic field with the new scoreboard telling them the score, that'll be a Situation. Spin it anyway you want to and pass the buck to anyone holding the empty bag, it's an oversight.
Voice of Reason September 14, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Yes Scrap the Boys Club Plan of a Turf Tournament venue’s and spend our tax dollars on the real needs throughout the Rec system. Mr. Cooper stated the “Need “for a new parking lot at Wesley Bishop because “Some of us have really nice cars and we are tired of them getting dinged up when we drop off our kids” Hundreds of thousands of dollars for a parking lot and nothing for the old lighting at Jeff Young or maple Dawson? How about the drainage problems at the lower fields at memorial? I stand by my statement that this was an Ego driven plan to provide Tournament Venues for Private Clubs at Tax payer’s expense. This was driven by Councilman Testa for almost two years, and quite frankly his ownership of the Lacrosse store ( Ruff Lax) that sells its wears at these tournaments should have disqualified his participation in the discussion and Votes on the Issue.
M.Verado September 15, 2011 at 03:37 AM
KJL, I didn't mean to make an accusation, I asked a question. Left unexplained, you can see how people would draw conclusions based on appearances. Congratulations, you explained it very well. Ultimately, it is the townships responsibility, both inspection and repair. Volunteers always do it wrong. Just ask the sidewalk supers.

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