BHCA to Hold Forum to Discuss City’s Plan to Electrify Existing Gas Streetlights

The Beacon Hill Civic Association will be holding a Neighborhood Forum to discuss the City of Boston’s newly announced plan to replace all of the more than 1,000 existing historic gas street-lamps in the neighborhood with new LED electric light-pole fixtures on Thursday April 7, beginning at 6 p.m. at 74 Joy St. It will be held in person and also broadcast live over Zoom for those unable to attend.

“The BHCA believes that it is important to have a robust and transparent discussion about the City’s recently announced plan to remove all of Beacon Hill’s historic gas streetlamps, and how such a massive, multi-year project will affect the residents of our neighborhood,” said Rob Whitney, chair of the BHCA board of directors. “We will also be discussing possible alternatives to the wholesale and immediate removal of all of the historic gas street-lamps on Beacon Hill.”   

The BHCA has invited the key city officials leading this replacement initiative to the Neighborhood Forum, including Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s Chief of Streets, Transportation, and Sanitation, and Michael Donaghy, Street Lighting and Asset Manager for the Boston Public Works Department, who is the architect of the city’s gas street-light removal program.

The BHCA has asked them to come and explain to residents the city’s current rationale for removing the historic gas street-lights on Beacon Hill, including the city’s estimate of the anticipated de minimis net reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which would result from the removal of Beacon Hill’s gas-lamps, according to Whitney.

Said Whitney: “We have also asked the city’s representatives to come to respond to the many questions we have received from our Beacon Hill residents concerning the anticipated cost of removing and replacing the existing Beacon Hill gas street-lights, which we estimate will range from $12 million to $15 million, and the anticipated multi-year disruption to our neighborhood from the removal and replacement of the existing gas street lamps, including as well the removal of the underground gas lines, the installation of new electric power lines, and the attendant repair of the sidewalks and streets all over the entirety of Beacon Hill.”  

Additionally, the BHCA has asked city officials to bring their mock-up of the proposed replacement LED electric fixture to the Neighborhood Forum so attendees can see it for themselves. 

“We hope that this will be just the first of many such meetings going forward involving city officials and our Beacon Hill residents as the city seeks ways to reduce GHG emissions from its myriad of operations,” said Whitney, “and we look forward to a continued collaboration between the city and the BHCA on informing the city’s residents about these important issues.” 

Moreover, Whitney added, “We’re very hopeful that the city officials will come and speak to neighborhood residents about this very large project that they would like to implement on Beacon Hill. We welcome their participation in this important discussion about our neighborhood’s future.”

On March 14, the city unveiled a mock-up of an electrified gas street-lamp in the area of 212 Stuart St., during a public meeting sponsored by the Bay Village Historic District Commission. This fixtures is the proposed standard for the new electrified street-lamps throughout Beacon Hill as well as in the rest of Bay Village and on Marlborough Street in the Back Bay.

The Bay Village Historic District Commission held another mock-up viewing on March 30 at 212 Stuart St. for those unable to attend the first meeting, including members of the Beacon Hill Civic Association board who were instead attending that group’s March 14 monthly meeting.

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