by Geoff Fox
Upgrades to the lighting in the Hess Building and the town’s Public Works offices on the east end of town have been approved by officials in a 3-0 vote after Councilman Tim Boyer abstained from voting due to his job with Potomac Edison.
The company that would be performing the upgrade is a partner with Potomac Edison.
The lights are to be upgraded to LED lights, similar to those in the town’s Community Center.
The lights in the Community Center were upgraded about 10 years ago, Smith said. He added those upgrades were a “significant” energy savings.
“Technology has continued to evolve and the prices of the LED fixtures have come down,” he said.
The total cost of the upgrade to the Hess building would run $14,670. However, the portion paid by Potomac Edison is $10,190 leaving the town $4,479 to pay.
Smith said there is no one else involved and Potomac Edison would come in “lock, stock, and barrel” and do the whole job.
The upgrade of lighting would also include the small building the town uses as the Public Work offices.
After taking two looks at the office space, Potomac Edison agreed to replace the individual bulbs with fixtures.
By replacing an incandescent bulb with an LED bulb, the consumption of kilowatts is reduced. The light itself is also dispersed differently because of the bulb, but putting a shade or reflectors the light would be brighter and still use less power.
The cost for that building would be $15,848 with Potomac Edison paying $11,093 with the town paying $4,754.
This would include the same deal as the Hess Building deal.
Smith said the funds are available in this year’s operating budget under building funds.
“We have sizable funds in excess reserve as well at this point,” he said.
Sidewalk on bridge
Smith and Mayor Ralph Salvagno met with people who are associated with the Tuscarora Trail, which passes through Hancock.
The trail was originally built as an alternative to the Appalachian Trail that passes through Pennsylvania, comes up the C&O Canal, and drops across River Road, Salvagno said.
Salvagno added it creates a unique thing where the Western Maryland Rail Trail, C&O Canal, Tuscarora Trail, and “all the byways” crossing in Hancock.
Smith said there could be an effort to re-route the trail a little that could impact Hancock in a significant way and allow people to see more of Hancock.
The trail crosses the U.S. 522 bridge where the sidewalk along the bridge is in bad shape in spots and narrow.
Smith said there had been an outreach to the State Highway Administration regarding the bridge.
There could be funds available to the SHA internally for pedestrian access and the bridge improvements are being approached as a safety concern.
“There’s no way that can be safe, let alone handicap accessible,” Smith said. He added the sidewalk for the bridge is not listed as a project, but the fact there is an “ask” about the bridge could get it eventually on a list.
“Any of you have driven across the 522 bridge, know that in some point in time, there’s going to have to be something done,” the mayor said.
If the bridge is ever re-done to create a pedestrian lane or bike lane, “if we don’t start putting it on a plan now, it will never happen,” Salvagno said.
Electric charging stations
Charging stations for electric vehicles have been installed in the Rail Trail parking lot, but there is no timetable for when they’ll be live.
There was no cost to the town for the installation and Ellsworth
Electric handled the installation.
Each of the two stations has a start and stop button, two nozzles, and accepts credit cards. They are located in the first two spots of the Rail Trail parking lot below Main Street.
Smith said there is a provision where the town can get behind the meters so an illumination source can be installed.
There are some right of way issues where the wiring would have to go across the sidewalk to a pole and then underground. The town does not own the property, but there is a memorandum of understanding where the town maintains it.
LED lights on Main Street
The lights on Main Street could be getting an upgrade from dull yellow lights to a brighter LED light.
Smith said those lights would come as a cost savings to the town, “no matter what we do.”
If the town replaced every light in town, they cost would be less than what the current rate for the lights.
“It’s something that we need to do. It will make the streets brighter, safer, all that,” Smith said.
If the town wanted to retain the decorative lights, the power company would sell them to the town for one dollar, but not collect the dollar, Smith said.
The current deal for lighting is up and the town is “good to go,” Smith said. The new contract would be for 10 years.
Mayor Ralph Salvagno used an example of pictures of old European cities having a yellow glow and then having those lights re-lit, “it is definitely a difference and if you’re not prepared for it, you’re a little taken aback by it,” he said of the white light the LED lights give off.