Evanston’s long-time love affair with its old-style Tallmadge street lights may be fading.
Evanston aldermen approved purchase of 23 more of the fixtures Monday night, but seemed interested in revisiting the decision made amid much public controversy nearly four decades ago to stick with the lights designed almost a century ago by Evanston architect Thomas Eddy Tallmadge.
Even a long-time critic of many sorts of change in town, Jeff Smith, of 2724 Harrison St., the founding president of the Central Street Neighbors Association, told aldermen “the Tallmadge lights are horrible.”
“They put light where it’s not needed, instead of where it is needed,” Smith said. “The light goes into the eyes of drivers and cyclists, making the streets less safe.”
Aldermen were somewhat more muted in their criticism of the fixtures.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asked whether they could be adapted so they don’t shine upward and create light pollution in the sky.
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said that attitudes may have changed since the city last did a study of street lighting in town, which Grover said was in 1979.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, the council’s longest-serving member, said that back then people were used to the Tallmadge lights — which in their original form she compare to “lighting a match.”
But then about 10 years later, Rainey said, people started wanting brighter lights. And in response many of the Tallmage fixtures were gradually retrofitted with brighter bulbs.
Holmes said people weren’t thinking about safety as much back then.
Assistant Public Works Director James Maiworm said the city several years ago identified one vendor of a fiberglass light fixture that closely resembles the current metal Tallmadge lights and costs significantly less. But he said staff is still looking for additional vendors for lights, seeking something he said would “be almost identical and longer lasting.”
Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said that staff also hopes to present some fresh ideas for pedestrian-oriented lighting when it brings plans for the Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay project to the City Council next month.
City hopes to shed new light on streets (7/24/2015)