Fryeburg streetlights to stay on

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — “Safety is more important than saving money — so don’t shut off any street lights in Fryeburg!”

That was the overwhelming message selectmen received, both through petitions and at a public hearing here, last week.

Near the end of the public 40-minute-long public hearing on March 22, most of the 25 attendees gave a show of hands in favor (only two opposed), when Fryeburg Board of Selectmen Chairman Ed Wilkey asked how many of them were opposed to the 28 identified streetlights being removed.

Petitions received

There were three petitions submitted, signed by 39 citizens, that read, “We, the registered voters of the Town of Fryeburg, do hereby petition the Fryeburg Board of Selectmen to NOT remove streetlights within said town. We feel this poses a safety issue to our residents.”

As a cost savings measure, town officials and a representative from Central Maine Power Company had compiled the list, at CMP’s suggestion, of what streetlights could be turned off, with a projected annual savings to turn of all 28 streetlights of $2,877.60.

The cost to the town for a total of 154 streetlights in 2011 was $24,564.84.

Selectman Tom Klinepeter, Public Works Director Gary Whitten, Town Manager Sharon Jackson and the CMP representative had visited every streetlight and rated them from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.

The 28 lights proposed to be removed were ranked with a 1. In December, 2011, notices were placed on the 28 poles with the streetlights being considered to be removed stating to call the town manager with any questions. Town Manager Jackson said seven people contacted her, after seeing the notices on the streetlight poles.

“Tonight, we’d like to find out from the citizens which streetlights we should keep,” Chairman Wilkey said, in opening up the public hearing at the American Legion Hall March 22. “If all 28 streetlights are important, then all 28 will stay.”

Mary Hill from Stuart Street in Fryeburg Village, where one of the 28 streetlights was proposed to be removed, said there are “a lot of pedestrians” on her street, at different times of the day and night.

“We have no sidewalks, we have kids walking and at night we have pedestrians — people walking their dogs,” said Hill. “It’s an endangerment — not only on Stuart Street but others, as well.”

“Twenty-nine hundred dollars sounds like pennies to save, in the interest of the people of Fryeburg,” said Hill.

Jim Boyd of Smith Street, who submitted a petition in favor of keeping the streetlights, talked about his street’s T-intersection with Cottage Street.

“People get caught up on the sidewalk,” due to the lack of visibility at night, Boyd said.

Boyd then spoke of Betty Walker, who is the Town of Fryeburg’s current Boston Post Goldheaded Cane recipient/holder and who lives near a streetlight being proposed for removal.

“Betty actually wrote on there (the streetlight post), ‘That’s my only view,’” said Boyd. “Those are her words, not mine.”

Lisa Howard of Ice House Road told the selectmen, “I wish my whole street was safe enough not to have to have streetlights. There are teenagers there at all hours of the night smoking and drinking…With summer coming, I think the more streetlights, the more of a deterrent you have. I would like them to stay on.”

Diane Jones, who lives in North Fryeburg, said residents are opposed to reducing any of the streetlights there.

“We do not want to lose one of our streetlights,” Jones stated. “Two thousand dollars — that’s only a drop in the bucket, to save one life.”

Holly Foster said three streetlights on Oxford Street were proposed to be removed.

“The downtown is regularly walked,” Foster said. “We also have our Neighborhood Watch, and if we can’t see anything, we won’t be able to report anything odd.”

“I think all of the streetlights should stay on — intown, as well as North Fryeburg — that’s ($2,877.60) not a lot of money, for the safety of our town,” said Foster.

Asked his opinion, Fryeburg Chief of Police Phil Weymouth replied, “I think for just under $3,000, forget about it — leave them on.”

Wilkey said the selectmen will make a formal decision at their next regular meeting on April 5.

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