After shutting off the tree lights in Five Points Park due to maintenance issues, the Downtown Improvement District is considering investing in a new lighting system.
The DID invested $81,000 to install lights in the branches of the trees in Five Points Park in 2011, but tree growth and animal interference eventually made the system too expensive and difficult to maintain. In June, the board voted to turn off the lights for good, and put out a request for proposals for a new lighting system.
The proposal selected for consideration by a team of city staff came from Candela Controls, a Winter Park, Fla. lighting company. Four color-changing LED lights would be strapped to the base of each of the park's 26 trees, 10 feet in the air, projecting upwards at the canopy. The DID is also considering an alternate plan that would swap the color-changing lights for static white lights.
DID board members identified the system’s cost as a major concern. Though they have the option to finance it through the city over five years, the color-change system would cost about $135,000, and the white lights would cost about $91,000.
“I don’t see the value of spending $91,000 or $135,000 for new lights,” DID board member Tom Mannausa said. “I see a value of removing from the trees all the existing lighting and wiring.”
Still, the board unanimously voted at today’s meeting to spend $1,200 on a demonstration that would bring two color-change lights and two white lights to Five Points Park. The DID is interested in inviting stakeholders, including the city, nearby condos and the opera to witness the demonstration in hopes that they will help cover the costs. The city and the Selby Foundation helped pay for the 2011 lighting system.
At today’s meeting, the DID also agreed to fund lighting for 22 oak trees along the 1300, 1400 and 1500 blocks of Main Street at the cost of $14,080. The project, put together by the Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association, would put stringed lights around the trees, and could be completed before the end of the month.
Some DID board members asked why the prices of the two projects were so disparate. DID Operations Manager John Moran explained the June request for proposals said holiday bulbs with a 90-day warrantee couldn’t be used, so the vendor for the merchant group’s project didn’t submit a proposal.
Board members said they wanted to consider the option of seeking a cheaper system going forward. During the forthcoming Five Points Park demonstration, which will take place in early December at the soonest, the DID will showcase the Main Street lights as another potential choice for interested parties.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].