Evanston aldermen voted 6-3 Monday to scrap plans to add pedestrian lights on Davis Street downtown.

Pedestrian lights along Church Street near Sherman Avenue.

Evanston aldermen voted 6-3 Monday to scrap plans to add pedestrian lights on Davis Street downtown.

City staff had proposed the lights — like ones installed last year on Church Street — as part of the street paving project on Davis this summer.

After that plan drew criticism from aldermen earlier this year, Public Works Director Suzette Robinson presented a revised plan Monday that proposed using less expensive fixtures spaced further apart so that six blocks of Davis Street could be lit for a total of $180,000 — compared to the $171,000 cost of the fixtures that now light three blocks of Church Street.

But that idea didn’t win many fans either.

“As usual we’re overspending on projects when we don’t have the money to do so,” Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said.

And Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she believed the lights on Church “don’t provide any function and only add to street clutter.”

But Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she likes the pedestrian lights and that she has heard from residents of downtown retirement communities who say the lights make them feel safer walking around downtown at night.

Wynne suggested increasing the wattage of the existing street lights, but Robinson said the lights are already at the maximum wattage the system can handle.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the city might consider in the future adding downlighting on the current poles — like what she said has been done on Howard Street. Those lights, she said, don’t create additional obstructions on the sidewalks.

In the end, only Fiske, plus aldermen Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, and Jane Grover, 7th Ward, voted to keep the pedestrian lights in the plan.

Related story

Pedestrian lights under fire

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Aldermen voted unanimously for lights last year

    All of the aldermen were made aware of both the type of fixture, the nature of the lighting, and the locations where the lights were to be installed before they approved the project last year.

    It is crazy for them to start criticizing staff for something they themselves had approved long ago.

  2. Alderman Wynne’s comments

    On Church Street, where there is already plenty of light including on the side of some of the buildings, I agree with Alderman Wynne's comment about the pedestrian level lights: "don't provide any function and only add to street clutter.", but I do not agree with her suggestion that we should increase the wattage on the existing street lights.

    At least it appears that they cannot be increased – and that's good. The existing street lights shine the light outward, not down. The increase in wattage on these fixtures over the years is simply terrible. The lights shine the light into apartments, the second stories of houses, the tree canopies, etc. but not down where the light is desired.

    The existing and beloved Talmadge fixtures are a design from a time of low wattage incandescent bulbs.  We have destroyed their charm (and Evanston's!) by increasing the wattage of the lamps.


  3. Stay the course

    Use pedestrian lights, don't use pedestrian lights – whatever, but for God's sake stick to a plan for a change. Every time the wind blows a plan is changed. How can we possibly place confidence in the City government and administration if it cannot stick with it's own plans and ideals from year to year.


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