Van Dam is scheduled to brief the council on his research of the project at tonight’s meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall. He said he has discussed the idea with public works officials and electricians and that he believes it would not be an overly expensive project to light at least few main alleys.
“The city would likely buy and install the lights, and the building owner would pay for the electricity, which we don’t think would be that expensive,” Van Dam said. “The next step is to talk to the city solicitor about obtaining the easements.”
An easement is a legal agreement that would allow the city to access private property, for instance to install or maintain lighting and electrical wires on a building. Solar lights have been discarded as a possibilities, Van Dam said, because most of the alleys don’t receive enough sunshine during daylight hours to power the devices.
Councilors have said the city should use some of the money that’s been generated by the paid parking program to pay for the lights.
“Between the parking fees and the meals tax, we should have enough money to do something,” Daly O’Brien said at last month’s council meeting. “In eight months, we’ve done nothing ... It shouldn’t be that complicated. The mayor has had more than enough time on this.”
Councilor Michael McGonagle, who owns a business downtown on Merrimack Street, said he has heard talk of lighting the alleys for many years.
“I’m tired of hearing about it and I’d like an answer,” McGonagle said. “And if the mayor says no, then we’ll find a way to do it.”
In an interview last summer, Fiorentini said he supports putting lights and video cameras in the alleys, but that he didn’t think the city would be able to afford it anytime soon.