Permanent lights to be installed on 48th Avenue

Jess Hodge

Students, faculty, staff and administrators around Grand Valley State University have been pushing Allendale Charter Township for lighting and sidewalks along 48th Avenue and Pierce Street for years.

Earlier in October, there were six temporary light fixtures placed along 48th Avenue. However, the community has been searching for a permanent solution to the lighting problem, which has now been solved. At its meeting Monday, Oct. 24, the Allendale Charter Township Board of Trustees approved a permanent plan for lighting along 48th Avenue.

Jerry Alkema, Allendale Township supervisor, said there will be 37 lights on the west side of 48th Avenue, two of which GVSU will be taking care of. The lights will be spaced 150 feet apart from each other.

However, there were some concerns with the type of the lights, raised by Laurie Richards, the Allendale Township clerk. The lights in the proposed plan to be put in are high pressure sodium (HPS) lights instead of light emitting diode (LED) lights. Richards believed LED lights might be brighter, last longer and therefore cheaper because they will need to implement less lights as the light will carry farther.

“Are these (HPS lights) comparable is what I’m asking because we have a sodium light by my house and it’s not very bright,” said Pat Door, an Allendale Township trustee. “I want these college kids to be safe.”

Representatives form Consumers Energy were at the meeting and assured the board they explored the options of both LED and HPS lights and said that HPS lights actually emit a farther light, or a brighter lumen, than LED lights, so there wouldn’t be much of a difference. Additionally, the fixtures for LED lights cost about $1,000 more a piece than fixtures for HPS lights. When fixtures cost more, the monthly maintenance cost also increases. Also, the consumption cost per-month would be within $1 of each other.

Alkema also said the lights can’t get closer together than 125 feet, so they are already placing lights fairly close to each other.

Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president of facility services at GVSU, was also at the meeting and said the lights were going to be beneficial for students.

“The light distribution (is) actually higher than we maintain our sidewalks on campus,” he said. “The distribution between the two light poles that are 150 feet apart has very good light distribution, up to one foot candle within about 30 feet of each other. The coverage was very good from Lake Michigan Drive to Pierce, and we were very satisfied with that when we looked at the plan.”

Alkema said GVSU agreed to pay 50 percent of the costs for the lights.

In addition to the lights along 48th Avenue, there are plans in the making to build a sidewalk from 42nd Avenue to 48th Avenue on the north side of Pierce Street. Alkema said the estimated finish time for the sidewalk is next year.