VADNAIS HIEGHTS — Construction of light poles adorned with flower baskets in the City Center will begin this summer.
“It's going to be exciting to have some color,” said Councilman Bob Fletcher.
The City Council approved plans for the City Center Area Street Light project at its April 6 meeting. Solicitation of bids for the lighting and irrigation work was authorized by the council, and city staff will be ordering the street lights.
The cost of the project is estimated at $1.3 million to $1.5 million and will include about 100 light poles. The lights will be purchased using tax increment financing (TIF) funds and will not require a tax increase to residents. Recently a street light pole fell over, causing safety concerns to the city.
“It's the first time we have replaced lights since the City Center began,” said Mayor Marc Johannsen. “I think it is a reasonable use of taxpayer dollars.”
Light poles 30 feet in height will be installed at intersections and 16-foot poles will be placed between intersections. The shorter light poles will hold flower baskets. Banners will be installed on the taller poles. Those poles will also be able to hold seasonal decorations, including lights and wreaths. Both pole sizes will accommodate flags.
“We've worked hard over the years to create a sense of place,” said Johannsen. “I think it is a small thing we can do to make a big impact.”
The City Center task force was in favor of the lights with decoration to enhance a “sense of pride” in the community, said Johannsen. He also said many other communities have beautified city centers.
The lights will also have dimming controls to monitor the amount of energy used. Lights can be dimmed during low-traffic times.
The new light poles will match the newer ones along Talmage Lane, City Center Drive and City Center Lane. Those poles will be retrofitted to hold flags and flower baskets. Light poles within the City Center will be removed and replaced with the new ones. Street lights also will be added along Willow Lake Boulevard.
Councilman Terry Nyblom opposed the expenditure, citing financial concerns. City Administrator Kevin Watson assured the council that the $9 million left in the TIF pool was enough to cover this project and others as well.
“We do have [a] sufficient balance,” said Watson.