The Chautauqua Property Owners Association is hoping to shed some light on an issue concerning many Chautauquans — literally.
Pedestrian street lighting has been a priority of the CPOA for about five years. Many of the lights around the grounds are both inefficient and wasteful, said Bill Neches, president of the CPOA.
The globe lights on concrete poles, including those on Bestor Plaza, Vincent brick walk and behind the Amphitheater, as well as the orange high-pressure sodium light near Bratton Theater are a few that Neches said are the most ineffective.
“The problem with the globes is that the light is in your eyes and in your windows, instead of on the ground,” Neches said.
Neches and the CPOA Outdoor Lighting Committee, along with the International Dark-Sky Association, have been looking for lighting that shines downward onto the street and reduces disability glare.
Disability glare is caused by excessively bright outdoor light that shines into pedestrian’s eyes, momentarily blinding them.
“Disability glare reduces your visibility by a considerable amount,” Neches said. “By the time you are 65 or 70 years old, visibility is reduced by double.”
While some communities have been installing these bright lights in residential areas, they would better serve on a highway where bright lights are more necessary, Neches said.
“The problem is that most communities and municipalities are not aware of the need to focus on residential street lighting,” he said.
Two nearby municipalities that installed these lights in residential areas received so many complaints that they were ultimately taken down, Neches said.
In addition, many of the older lighting fixtures in Chautauqua use bulbs that are no longer available, meaning that when a bulb burns out, the entire fixture must be replaced. Neches said that LED lights last longer, so he has proposed to start using LED bulbs when replacing lights around the grounds.
However, electric utility company National Grid, which owns many of the street lights around the grounds, does not offer LED lighting. The CPOA has been in communication with National Grid to try transitioning from their antiquated lights to low-glare, low-light trespass and Dark-Sky friendly lights, which would be installed by the Chautauqua Utility District and Chautauqua Institution. Negotiations with National Grid are still continuing, and some progress has been made at this point, Neches said.
Neri, a company known for its outdoor lighting, has developed new low-glare lighting technology that the CPOA hopes to use on residential streets in the future.
Chautauqua Institution has ordered three new lights for North Lake Drive and one for near Miller Bell Tower. These lights are Neri 804 luminaire, bottom mounted on a decorative arm. Plans have also been made to install new lights on South Lake Drive between Miller Park and the Sports Club. Neches said these lights will complement the new brick walkway through Miller Park.
The CPOA was part of the “Pedestrian Friendly Outdoor Lighting” study of appropriate street lighting for residential communities conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2013. As a result, demonstration lights were installed around the grounds in 2013 to get a better idea of what types of lighting would serve the community best.
The light they decided on was the Demo 2 LED 24 Watt Fortimo module for post-top mounting and the same light in 37 Watts for mounting on arms on wooden utility poles. The CPOA plans to survey Chautauquans regarding these lights to ensure that they are what the community wants, Neches said.
The CPOA conducts a street lighting walk-about at 9:30 p.m. every Sunday night, led by Neches or John Dilley, chairman of the Outdoor Lighting Committee, to demonstrate the impact each of these demonstration lights has on the grounds.