Dunkirk to lead with LEDs

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino Pictured from left, First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr., Second Ward councilman Marty Bamonto, Third Ward Councilman Adelino Gonzalez and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala discuss the LED lighting project at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

The future will be brighter in the city of Dunkirk, at least literally. The LED lighting project brought to the Finance Committee last week was approved in a 4-1 vote by the Common Council Tuesday.

Members who attended the committee meeting expressed their support for the project. However, Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala was unable to attend that meeting and felt her questions were not answered.

Her main concern was about the financials, which in addition to a $100,000 immediate rebate, promise to save the city $19,000 on its annual electric bill during the five-year payback of the $1 million project and a quarter million dollars a year from year five to 10 while the lights are under warranty.

“The reason why I’m very skeptical at this time is because the city’s done, through Siemens and the NYSERDA, and if I remember correctly, we did not realize the savings that we were told the way we were supposed to and that was 20 years ago and more recently. I know they say the money is cash flow, but I would have preferred a discussion with the whole council,” she said.

LED Energy Solutions President Steve Hotz again expressed this is an inevitable move that is best made now while there are incentives available.

Resident Paul Somerfeldt expressed concern with blue light disrupting star gazing as well as sleep patterns for humans and animals.

Hotz said the light “warmth” can be adjusted at no additional cost.

Department of Public Works Director Randy Woodbury said besides the change being “green” it will also help with street lighting.

“Right now the color temperature of our (street) lights is all over the place depending on where you are. Sometime that’s good and sometime that’s not. We have to consider the color temperature for the environment, but also for law enforcement and things like that. We can do this and make all of our lights more efficient and more safe for the whole city,” he said.

It was also clarified that three quotes were obtained for the project, despite that not being necessary.

City Attorney Richard Morrisroe made a change to Resolution 88 prior to the vote in order to acknowledge the existence of the Siemens contract and offer the city the option to have that contract bought out as a part of this contract with an additional two-year payback.

Four council members voted in favor of moving forward, with Szukala opposed.

“For me I would have liked to table it to get more information before moving forward,” she added.

Second Ward Marty Bamonto said, “This is great for the city taxpayers. It’s going to be an immediate savings. Some of the money we’re going to get right away we can use in next year’s budget so hopefully we won’t have to raise taxes.”

Action was not taken to decide on a five-year or seven-year payback. Rosas said this will be council’s decision, but he prefers the five-year deal.

“This is going to be a savings to city taxpayers. What they don’t know is the city is paying close to $800,000 a year for electricity that we’re using and that’s going to come down a quarter of a million dollars. So that’s where the savings is going to be helping out because that’s going to pay for brand new upgrades in lights and savings for city taxpayers,” Rosas said, noting all city facilities are included in the project as well as Promenschenkle Stadium.

It is hoped the project will be completed by the end of the year, weather pending.