The Public Works Department of the Borough of West Chester has responded to residents’ requests for street lights over the years. Additionally through “Street Scape,” the department continues to oversee the need for lighting and other additions throughout the residential areas and business areas of the Borough.In addition to maintaining the number of street lights in the Borough, the PWD is responsible for the infrastrucure of the streets such as the sidewalks, recycling, water and sewer maintenance, snow control and other architectural items, according to the Borough website.
Director of Public Works Robert Wilpizeski said that there are currently 980 street lights in the Borough. The three typical kinds of lighting include incandescent, mercury vapor and high-pressured sodium, which the majority of the lighting has been converted to high pressure sodium. In 1995, the Borough bought the fixtures from PECO.
High-pressure sodium lighting uses less and better use of electricity Wilpizeski said.
The frequency of light fixtures is determined by the level of activity in the area. Gay, High and Market Streets have strong lighting because of the volume of activity and people.
Residential areas typically have one light midway of the neighborhood. Wilpizeski said that intersections are also illuminated.
The conversions were based upon observations from the Borough Police that indicated where lighting was ineffective and where areas were deemed unsafe.
High pressure sodium lighting fixtures were placed specifically where the was a high level of “drug activity.”
Lighting fixtures in the Southeast end of the Borough have undergone conversions as well.
Although residential areas do not have as many lighting fixtures as commercial areas, South Walnut Street, according to Wilpizeski, is an exception. Prior to 2003, the residents requested more lighting. Due to the abundance of trees which have large canopies, lighting fixtures were proven ineffective in that the cast was not successful. Pedestal style lights were implemented below the tree canopies to emit light.
Wilpizeski said that these light fixtures are “state-of-the-art high-pressure sodium lights.”
The lights on South Walnut street allow the area to be safer, brighter and produces a more “attractive appearance.” This lighting, however, may attract unwanted people according to Wilpizeski.
“I think the light is good in most places,” Wilpizeski said. “Lighting does change [and] luminosity does decrease.”
Upgrades and change of lighting is completed upon request.
Wilpizeski said that the PWD does approximately 12 upgrades per year. Implementing additional lighting is monitored because there are budget limitations according to Wilpizeski.
To request more lighting, a person should call the PWD and give an address. PWD investigates the areas to see if there is a utility pole in close proximity.
The utility poles are owned by PECO. Therefore, for an addition, the contractor for PWD contacts PECO and a possible agreement follows.
For an upgrade or to fix a broken light, the contractor does not have to contact PECO. A new light costs $500; an upgrade (from mercury vapor to high-pressure sodium) costs $350.
In 2007, approximately three lights were replaced/upgraded.
The Public Works Department, according to Wilpizeski, wants to continue the conversion of lighting through “Street Scape” project, replacing mercury vapor goose-neck lighting with high-pressure sodium lighting.
In 2008, the PWD will convert the light fixtures on Church Street to high-pressure sodium.
The price of forty lights costs $10,000.
“The cost for the Street Scape project on High Street will cost approximately $800,000,” Wilpizeski said. The Department has applied for grants to renovate the sidewalks, pavements, and replace old trees with new trees and lights.
The Urban Center Revitalization Fund will propel these changes according to Wilpizeski.
“Our street Light program is continually improving,” Wilpizeski said, “[The renovations are] what makes the town look good.”
Nicole Fortuna is a second-year student of the Honors College majoring in Literature with a minor in Linguistics. She can be reached at NF626790@wcupa.edu.