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Cortez council approves streetlight installation

Construction set to begin after months of discussion
Sam Green/The Journal<br><br>The council chambers in City Hall.

In a meeting on Tuesday, the Cortez City Council approved the construction of two new streetlights on North Edith Street after tabling the issue twice.

The streetlight proposal first came before the council in November, at the request of some residents in the area who said they needed lights at the Melrose and Acoma intersections for safety reasons. But it was tabled because Public Works Director Phil Johnson said he wasn’t sure the city had given enough residents a chance to offer feedback.

It was tabled again at the council’s Jan. 9 meeting, where two property owners said they hadn’t had a chance to review the plan.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the council voted to install the streetlights, despite the complaints of a few residents who said they would cause light pollution.

The two property owners who spoke up at the Jan. 9 meeting, Dave and Lana Waters, wrote a letter to the City Council saying that they had met with Johnson and decided to support the streetlight installation.

“After we left the City Council meeting ... we drove through the neighborhood and got a grasp on how dark it really is there,” they wrote.

At the Jan. 9 meeting, several Edith Street residents said they didn’t feel safe in their neighborhood because of how dark it gets at night.

Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane said it is located in one of the town’s highest crime areas. But during Tuesday’s public comment period, two other residents said they opposed the installation because it would make it more difficult to see the stars.

“In my block, there are porch lights, motion sensor lights, security cameras and alarms and some amazing firepower,” Edith Street resident Margaret O’Brien said.

“If all of these safeguards aren’t enough, lighting up the night sky is not going to be the answer either,” O’Brien said.

Another resident said that she believes too much light at night will be bad for her neighbors’ mental health.

Johnson said his survey of the neighborhood showed about 60 percent of residents were in favor of the lights, and 40 percent were against.

Johnson said Empire Electric Association, which will be in charge of the installation, recently switched to 100 watt lights instead of 175 watt lights in an effort to reduce light pollution.

“The thing that’s so hard about this kind of decision is that somebody’s not going to be happy,” Mayor Karen Sheek said. “I guess what it boils down to as we vote on it, is what do the individual council members feel (is) more important: the safety considerations, or the health and aesthetic considerations?”

In the end, the council voted unanimously, with Bob Archibeque absent, to approve the installation. Orly Lucero, who works for Empire Electric, recused himself from the discussion.

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