AUBURN | Residents on Bowen Street will soon see the light, despite objections from two members of the Auburn City Council.
At their Thursday meeting, the councilors voted 4-2 to approve a $71,965 project to install nine new streetlights on Bowen Street Extension.
Councilors John Camardo, William Graney and Peter Ruzicka, who voted for the new lights, said the project was long overdue and the darkened stretch of roadway represented a safety hazard at night.
"These folks are paying for services just like everybody else in every other neighborhood," Camardo said. "They're paying for this service and it's a safety feature that should have been acted upon years ago."
But Mayor Michael Quill and Councilor Matthew Smith objected to the source of the project's funding, which was not included in this year's budget.
Lead city engineer William Lupien said that instead of taking the money from the general fund, the project could be paid mostly by spending leftovers from 2011's city road program funding.
"We would just decrease the amount of maybe crack sealing that might have been programmed this year," Lupien said. "All the contract amount that have already been advertised, those are going to be done. This is just the second and third part of the road program."
"I sympathize with the folks in this neighborhood, and I agree that they need lighting," Mayor Quill said. "But I also feel that our streets are in deplorable condition. I don't want to see it come out of the general fund balance, nor do I want to see it come out of the street program. I would much rather push this off one more year and either work with the operating budget for the year or with the capital improvement project."
"After the budget that we just had and the conditions that our streets are in, which is obviously another potential safety hazard, we had no planning whatsoever coming out of the budget for this, and maybe we should put it off a year," Smith said. "We need to do a better job of planning for such events as this, $70,000 is not chump change."