The final stage of decorative street light installation in West U. is set to begin as early as January, as council has approved an additional $250,000 for the project. The 960 lights should all be installed by May, for a total of 1,602 in the city.
The increase in cost includes $100,000 for 102 more lights than originally estimated, $50,000 in repairs and tree trimming and a $100,000 increase in material and labor costs from CenterPoint. City Manager Michael Ross says he had “quite a debate” with CenterPoint on the cost increase, and they lowered their original increase by $15,000.
Phase I of the project, which involved the installation of 642 lights, cost $800,000. Phase II comes in at $1,450,000, bringing the total cost of the project to $2,250,000.
West U. City Councilman Michael Talianchich called the price increase “crazy.”
“I was dead set against Phase I, now Phase II is costing a whole bunch more,” said Talianchich. “I think it is a waste of money – the lights we have right now shed a lot more light than the ones we put in…I think we should stop.”
“You voted against it the first time, and you said after that it was a mistake,” said Mayor Bob Kelly.
“I said they were pretty,” said Talianchich.
“You said, ‘I was wrong about that,” said Councilman Bob Fry.
“Then I made a mistake by saying that,” countered Talianchich.
“These lights have been very popular,” said Fry. “The comment I have been getting is ‘when am I going to get mine?’ I am not about to tell these people we aren’t going to do it.”
The decorative streetlight program has been in the works for more than seven years, when council began what turned out to be the long process of picking out the style of the fixtures.