Among many attributes that make New Town unique are the handsome streetlights that adorn our residential neighborhoods. Myriad factors were considered when these fixtures were selected: compliance with local and state regulations; design attributes that would enhance the character and mood of the streetscape; illumination appropriate for ambience and safety concerns; satisfactory environmental criteria; capacity to add utility (adding signage or seasonal decoration); and, costs - installation and maintenance ... and more.
This article will focus on the last factor, the one that generates the most questions: maintenance. What’s involved and how can homeowners help keep the lights on?
Here are some enlightening facts about our streetlight assets.
There are approximately 225 residential streetlights in New Town.
The NTRA is responsible for maintaining and repairing the streetlights in New Town. In the main, this includes those on streets and alleys, in parks and within many, but not all, parking lots. Since some lines of responsibility are difficult to delineate (as in “many, but not all”), the most efficient way for oversight to function at present, is for all problem reports to be submitted through the STREETLIGHT PROBLEM reporting system on the website. (See below). Town Management will receive and review all reports, and redirect any that should be handled by the Commercial Association or another entity.
Neither V-DOT nor Dominion Power is involved with maintaining or repairing streetlights in New Town.
Around 2013 NTRA initiated a program to retrofit the existing decorative streetlamps for the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs. The intent was to lower costs associated with frequent bulb replacement and to conserve energy. The changeovers occurred gradually, usually when bulb replacement or other maintenance was needed. To date about 50% of the residential streetlamps have been retrofit for LED usage (lighting for the new construction in Shirley Park is LED.) The remainder continue to use older-style bulbs, such as Mercury-Halide or CFL. Other types of exterior street lighting can be found in the commercial areas and parking lots.
There are regular inspections of assets requiring maintenance (dog waste bins, street lights, walking paths, etc. Town Management personnel, maintenance staff, and NTRA committees, such as the Asset Maintenance Committee, assist. Because lighting problems are more easily detected at night, residents can be extremely helpful by reporting any issues seen in a timely fashion.
What should residents do when they notice a streetlight problem?
All homeowners should become familiar with the NTRA website which provides a simple means of reporting problems. From the MENU, under the RESIDENTS tab, select “REPORT AN ISSUE.” From 11 options (e.g., Pool & Playgrounds, Finance, etc.) choose the newest tab, “STREETLIGHT PROBLEM.”
Fill in requested information to help speed the repair:
- Your name and email address (in case more specific details are needed)
- Pole Number. An I.D. plate is attached near the base of every streetlight pole (see photo) with coded information that conveys information to the electrician. The label in this photo indicates that the street light is attached to the Phase 2 electrical panel, it is located on Casey Blvd and is the first pole in the sequence of that group. Copy this information down to include with a problem report. Tim Grueter of Town Management, says that including this number is a huge help, as is noting the address of the nearest home or intersection.
- Describe details. For example, only one bulb is unlit, the lamp has become very dim, the light remains on all day, or several lamps are out along the street. If an outage occurred after a shovel cut a wire or a sign was inserted near the pole, include that possibility so the electrician arrives with the necessary tools.
- Be specific with details if you are reporting something other than an electrical issue; for example, physical damage to the light pole, broken glass in the globe or a disconnected armature. The situation may require someone other than an electrician.
Town Management works with a roster of local electricians who are familiar with our streetlights and prepared with necessary parts to service them. At least once a month, and more frequently when indicated, an electrician is dispatched to deal with repairs/LED replacement (in a batch). There have been problems that hampered repairs during this pandemic period with shortages of certain supplies, particularly retrofit units, and of personnel at distributor facilities. These issues seem to be resolving.
Note that this article concerns Streetlight Issues, not major power outages that might occur due to a storm or hurricane. In those circumstances, residents would report outages to Dominion Virginia Power. Report the outage using a cell phone: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
We can all help keep the lights on.
Enhancements Are on Their Way through the Volunteer Efforts of Our Community
Notice anything new in Elizabeth Davis park? Well, it’s not really new, but refinishing has brought new life to one of New Town’s 24 wooden benches. Thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Park residents Mike Reilly and Bob Dennis, refurbishing our aging teak benches has begun.
New Town’s benches were identified as an upcoming capital expense item on the Asset Maintenance Committee’s recent inspection of New Town common area property. Given an estimated replacement cost of between $24,000 to $30,000, President Chuck Stetler asked avid woodworkers Mike and Bob to look at what might be done to salvage the benches. After recruiting other neighbors with trucks to move the benches, Mike and Bob power washed, sanded and applied a special protective coating and shield which returned the bench to its natural teak color. They presented the refinished bench as a prototype for the Board’s consideration. (See photos) As an alternative to purchasing new benches, on September 14th the Board of Directors approved Mike and Bob’s proposal to refurbish all 24 of the NTRA’s wooden benches. A few benches have deteriorated to the point that they will require replacement of slats in the bench backs. Supplies for their entire project will run about $3,000.
While this work has started, their efforts will largely be a winter garage project, explained Mike, since both the Reillys and the Dennises are new grandfathers. Mike and Bob are donating their labor as a service to the New Town community. (If you’d like to be considered as backup or support for these grandpas, contact Mike at email@example.com
or 843 450-5665).
Kudos to Mike and Bob for stepping up and demonstrating that New Town residents are willing to be part of the solution! Their efforts are saving the Association about $25,000.
By mid-October the long-awaited expansion of the pool playground will also be starting. The Board of Directors has approved the purchase and installation of a “Whistle Stop” play structure similar to the one pictured. This equipment addition is possible through a payment by the developer, New Town Associates, to the NTRA to satisfy James City County proffers. Many thanks to Bill Voliva and all the members of the Playground Work Group who can finally see the fruition of their 2017 deliberations. (See the March 2020 Town Crier for the full background on this playground project).
The Board has also approved the installation of a birdhouse on the greens of Magnolia Park. This architectural treat is currently under construction by another New Town resident. Stay tuned for the full story in our November Town Crier issue!