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City staff got informal approval Monday night to move forward with a test of new street lights as part of the Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay street improvement project scheduled for construction next year.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said to meet deadlines for state funding for the project the city needed to decide quickly whether to keep the existing spacing of light poles along the streets — but that because of plans to widen sidewalks to improve pedestrian access the lights would at least have to be moved from their current positions.

Aldermen seemed to agree to keep the existing spacing of the lights — which requires 30-foot tall poles to provide full illumination of the roads — rather than go with shorter poles that would spill less light into adjacent areas but would require using more poles to illuminate the street.

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Presented with a very rough sketch of one contemporary davit-arm light fixture from Holophane, and a photo illustration of a more traditional style fixture from Sternberg that is somewhat similar to ones recently installed in city parks, only two aldermen expressed preferences.

The traditional-looking Omega downlight model from Sternberg.

Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said he favored the contemporary design rather than the more ornate style — that he didn’t want to introduce a new traditional design.

The new poles could also be equipped with pedestrian level lights mounted lower on the poles facing the sidewalk.

Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she favored a down-light design for that — rather than one like the city’s traditional Tallmadge style fixtures that cast light in all directions.

All the new fixtures would use high efficiency LEDs as their light source.

Lyons said the project would involve replacing about 50 light poles — or about one percent of the total number of street lights in the city.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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