South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

South Side Slopes to be test site for new LED street lights

 

April 21, 2009



Trees and lights were the focus of the April 14 meeting of the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association, with guest speakers addressing both topics.

In the first presentation, Lisa Ceoffe, an urban forester with the city's Dept. of City Planning, said the fall deadline for the TreeVitalize program is April 24.

TreeVitalize is a joint project of the county, city, state Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. It plans to plant 20,000 new trees in the Pittsburgh region by 2012.

TreeVitalize receives $250,000 a year from the state, and partners with WPC to obtain funds from private organizations.

Community groups and nonprofits can apply for trees, as well as maintenance and planting assistance, through the TreeVitalize program.

Last year, the competitive application process drew 15 neighborhood applicants; this year, more than 30 are applying.

Among the selection criteria is having a tree tender involved in the project.

Through TreeVitalize, neighborhoods with certified tree tenders who organize neighborhood tree plantings will be eligible for 10 or more street trees for their communities.

While the city has about 30,000 street trees, she said, about 11,000 are diseased or dying.

Mr. Ceoffe said she scouts nurseries for the best deals and types of trees. About 30 percent of the street trees in the city's inventory are maple.

Trees cannot be planted in an "illegal" sidewalk, she said. Curbs are also a problem as they become depressed as cars are parked on them.

Rev. Don Ware commented that the issues with the Josephine St. trees are some are stressed with worms, and some are knocked down. New ones need planted.

Ms. Ceoffe said to keep in touch with her about the latter. She also suggests removing the ones with worms.

Residents can register for a tree tender course at http://www.PittsburghForest.org . For more information, email Caitlin@pittsburghforest.org , or call 412-362-6360.

The next tree tender class will start in May in Homewood.

In the other presentation, Pat Gormley talked about Beta Lighting, of Wisconsin, installing three LED (light emitting diode) lights on poles in the area by May 15 as part of the bidding process to replace the city's less energy efficient ones.

Currently, high pressure sodium lights comprise the city's 40,000 street lights. The city plans to upgrade them with the eventual purchase of LED lights.

Mr. Gormley was there on behalf of Gormley Farrington, the sales office for Beta Lighting.

Brian McGee, who also works for Gormley Farrington and lives on the Slopes, assisted in the presentation.

Mr. Gormley said LED lights save energy, reduce maintenance costs, and provide a better quality of light.

For example, LED lights will be bright white to see better. Also, with LEDs the distribution of light is better as it can be aimed and is therefore not wasted by, for instance, shining on one's neighbors.

LEDs also give uniform light, he said.

He wanted Slopes residents to know about the project, and to solicit input on what location on the Slopes the lights might best be utilized. South Side was the area chosen as the place where he and his competitors would install the lights.

SSSNA President Brad Palmisiano said the organization would be happy to identify some sites for him.

Mr. Gormley said he hoped Slopes residents would evaluate Beta's lights, and give feedback to the city.

Beta and two other companies are competing for the city contract.

Preparatory to the bidding process, the three companies each plan to install three lights for the purpose of the city putting together bid specifications. The new lights will be in effect for the next nine months.

The nine-month demonstration phase was chosen so the lights could be evaluated during multiple seasons under various weather conditions.

Mr. Gormley said he welcomes rain and snow as they flow through the light structure to cool it when mounted outdoors.

After the nine-month phase ends, the lights will be removed and the old ones reinstalled.

The action is required in order to be a bidder, said Mr. Gormley.

It is at no cost to the city as the three companies are paying all their own costs.

To a question of what happens if someone throws a rock at the lights, Mr. Gormley said if one LED fails in a group of 10, the others will overdrive to produce the total light effect. He called it "self-healing."

He said city officials have told him money is available for this project to move forward.

The next SSSNA meeting will be on May 12 at 7 p.m. at the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center.

 

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