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Great Neck considers replacing 800 lights with LED technology

Village officials said the transition from dated high-pressure

Village officials said the transition from dated high-pressure sodium lights to energy-efficient LED lights could cut costs and more effectively illuminate the village's streets. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Dim streets may soon be a memory in Great Neck as village officials consider replacing nearly 800 streetlights this year.

Officials said the transition from dated high-pressure sodium lights to energy-efficient LED lights could cut costs, help preserve the environment and more effectively illuminate the village’s streets.

Not all residents are on board, expressing concerns about the bright glare emitted by LED light bulbs and potential adverse impacts on health.

Preliminary details were shared with the community at a recent board meeting, and village trustees attempted to address criticism that the lights would shine too brightly.

“We are facing a dilemma,” Mayor Pedram Bral said. “Our streets are dark. People have gotten into car accidents. As the technology goes forward, we need to adopt it . . . Most places in the world are using LED lights.”

After months of research, the village is now at a critical point in the project, Village Clerk Joe Gill said. Outside consulting company RealTerm Energy recently completed a full inventory of the village’s lights and is readying bid documents.

Several residents entreated the village to hold off on the project, questioning why the village is acting in haste to adopt the latest technology.

“All these years we have gotten along fine. Why do we have to rush into this?” said longtime resident Jean Pierce. “I do not want this outside my window.”

Aesthetics aside, others described being physically affected by LED light exposure and cited medical articles about the risks of blue light, which is a component of LED bulbs. Resident Judy Rosenthal said she feels blinded by LEDs, which she said can cause retina damage and sleep disruptions, spurring a litany of health disorders.

“We surely can’t give up our computers, our cellphones and our flat-screen TVs, but do we need additional blue light exposure from our village streetlamps?” Rosenthal asked. “Who really winds up paying the price of these cost-saving LEDs?”

The village has secured a $250,000 state grant for the project and may also tap into forthcoming community benefit funds which are estimated at nearly $1 million. There is no cost proposal yet, Gill said.

With the new lighting, the village expects to halve its $100,000 annual electric bill.

Great Neck is among a wave of municipalities across Long Island converting to energy-efficient lighting. Nassau County’s three towns are at various stages of installing LEDs. While Hempstead Town has fully transitioned its 50,000 streetlights to LEDs at a cost of $1.3 million, the towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead are completing LED projects in stages.

In North Hempstead Town, about 250 of the town’s 10,000 streetlights are LEDs, spread across various neighborhoods. The town spent $200,000 last year on projects and has budgeted $100,000 for this year, spokeswoman Carole Trottere said.

Replacing a streetlight with an LED bulb saves more than half the cost of the old lights, depending on the wattage, said Paul DiMaria, the town’s public works commissioner.

In the New Salem community in the hamlet of Port Washington, 125 LED fixtures have cut energy use by 80 percent in a relatively short time, Trottere said.

Once Great Neck’s contract is awarded, the installation could take less than a month, Gill said.

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