Letter to the Editor

We Can Do Better

To the Editor,

The concern expressed by Temple Street residents regarding streetlamps, gas leakage, tree damage and the broader issue of energy and the environment comes at an opportune moment.

The notion of burning fossil fuel all day to illuminate the Hill by night has always seemed problematic, more so as environmental concerns have become inescapable and the negative effects of leaking gas on human health and our urban canopy are better understood. Ironically, the issue puts (pits) two groups, preservationists and environmentalists, who typically share viewpoints on many subjects, at odds.

Some years ago, I served briefly on the Board of Light Boston, when we studied a photocell device that when installed in a Beacon Hill streetlamp would shut the gas off in daylight and re-ignite at night. This is of course how our frugal forefathers dealt with the problem viz. “The Old Lamplighter.” But time has passed and I think we can do better.

Recent advances in LED technology could provide an excellent alternative. The light quality and visual character of new LED lamps is very different from the blue/green glare of the earlier models.

 The Somerset Club, notoriously sensitive to any change in ambience, has replaced the lamps in all chandeliers, sconces, and picture lights with new LED clear candelabra, with only minor mutterings, realizing considerable cost and maintenance economies. There is no reason why such a solution could not be studied on Temple Street as a pilot project, ideally by simply electrifying the existing streetlamps.

A group of residents has proposed engaging a knowledgeable lighting specialist as a consultant to pursue the matter and help to replicate the dim glimmer we all wish to maintain, and the city has set aside $400,000 to run the Temple Street pilot and agreed to a community process. I, for one, would like to express my support, not least because it would re-unite engaged neighbors who, whatever their differences, have always been stalwart in their commitment to the Hill.

Frank McGuire AIA

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