Vergennes seeks grant for street lighting

VERGENNES IS SEEKING a grant to install decorative street lights along the north side of Main Street in the city’s downtown. One of the possible benefits of installing new streetlights is that it could allow overhead power lines to be moved off Main Street in the future.

VERGENNES — At their March 10 meeting Vergennes City Council members backed a resolution that will allow City Manager Daniel Hofman to apply for a $170,000 Downtown Transportation Fund Grant to help fund decorative streetlights on the north side of Main Street. 
Hofman told the council the grant, which is administered by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, would require a 50% local match. 
Hofman said in a later email to the Independent that the city’s Water Tower Fund “could be a source of matching funds,” but that if the grant were awarded, “I could find a better source” given time to do research.
Hofman said a major benefit if the project were completed is that it is the first step toward eventually allowing existing power poles and lines to be moved off Main Street to behind the buildings that line the road. The city now uses those poles to hang streetlights. 
Eventually, he said, similar lights on both sides of Main Street could replace power poles as a method to hang lights and clear the way for power lines to be re-strung. 
“If decorative street lights are to replace the highway-style pole lights, it will take decorative lighting on both sides of the street to compensate for losing the highway-style lights,” Hofman wrote. “Thus completing one side of the road is step 1.”
Moving power lines off Main Street has been a goal of Vergennes officials and civic backers since the Vergennes downtown revitalization movement took hold in the mid-1990s. 
As well as for aesthetic reasons, Hofman and council members said they liked the idea of improving the north side of Main Street’s appearance for economic reasons. Businesses have historically not done well on that side of the street, and they said moving the lines and adding decorative poles could help.
“We might get some more commerce over there,” Hofman said. 
The city already has power sources at city hall and on the city green to provide electricity to new poles, Hofman said. 
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development will announce its grant decisions on April 27, and Hofman said work on the project could run from late 2021 to late 2022. 
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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