By David Slone
WARSAW – All 53 of the decorative downtown lamp lights, plus 15 spares, will be replaced with American Rescue Plan Act funds after the Warsaw Common Council approved nearly $400,000 to do so on Monday.
The Board of Public Works and Safety will still need to approve the final contract.
Mayor Joe Thallemer said the Council had already allocated about $700,000 in its ARPA budget for the replacement of the lights. With the discount and installation costs, the cost will still be about $160,000 less than was set aside.
Thallemer said the need to replace the lights became apparent in October when a man had leaned against one of the lights and it broke, Street Superintendent Dustin Dillon said after the meeting.
The city worked with Sternberg, the lamp provider, to figure out why the lights have failed or are failing.
“We’ve got to the point where – Sternberg has been good. They sent a structural engineer to come help with the problem,” Thallemer said, adding that Sternberg offered a discount on the cost of materials to replace the lights.
While Thallemer had figured about a 38% discount, Dillon figured around 25% with everything but did not figure in installation.
“It’s still a very significant discount,” Thallemer said. The lights have to be ordered by Aug. 14 to get the discount, Dillon said.
“The structural engineer … came in and found a problem with the alloy, how these were made. They no longer make the lights in that same style. Now, they’re made with a powdered coating on the inside to prevent this rust and stuff from happening, or corrosion,” Dillon said.
Some of the lights were installed in 1998, but others were put up in 2004 or 2005.
“So, for them to come back and give us a 25% discount, after all those years, is pretty incredible,” Dillon said.
The retail cost of the lights would be $522,406, he said. With the discount, the cost would be $390,364, a savings of over $130,000. Dillon said they also set aside $150,000 for installation of the lights.
Thallemer said Dillon has done a great job with the lights.
“When this first came to our attention, his crew went out and inspected every light, they graded every light as far as the corrosion,” Thallemer said.
Dillon said they’ve taken down four lights so far.
Councilwoman Diane Quance asked how the new lamps will look compared to the ones the city has now. Dillon said the lights will be LED lights instead of incandescent so the light will be more crisp and they’ll be more energy efficient.
The outside appearance of the lamps will be “very similar” to the current ones, he said.
Councilman Jeff Grose said he was taken back a bit by the cost.
Warsaw Community and Economic Development Director Jeremy Skinner said despite some issues, the city still got a pretty good use from them.
“I think the big takeaway here is some of those have been in the ground for 20 years, and they’re still giving us a discount,” Skinner said.
He compared it to two recent street light expenditures. For Market Street, the lights cost around $400,000, while along CR 300N cost around $500,000, he said.
“But, you know, that’s one of the reasons why the school is looking at making that a walking zone because we have a trail there that is lit. So I think all of those things that we are doing are creating that multiple mode of transportation and lights are a part of that,” Skinner said.
Dillon said the current lights were graded on a 1 to 5 system, with 1 being looking like brand new on the inside and 5 being if someone leans on it, it’ll fall over. He said they had very few 1s or 2s “with this timeframe, especially in this downtown district. So while we’re getting this 25% discount, it’s probably better off.”
Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins said she was happy that the final cost came in less than she anticipated so she made a motion to move forward with replacing the decorative downtown lights. Quance seconded the motion and it was approved 6-0, with Councilman Mike Klondaris absent.