Letter to the editor:
I would like to thank those who shared their thoughts concerning the decorative lights vs. LED vs. flags and wreaths. Most all of the comments were solid suggestions and offered in a respectful and constructive way. Since I have been involved with the decorative lights almost from the beginning I would like to share the Truth as I Know It.
The funds used to purchase the lights, face the sidewalks with bricks, create brick faced crosswalks, refurbish the electric system, install new grass and add a sprinkler system in Schouler Park, pay for extensive engineering work to determine the price and feasibility of a system of conduit underground as the first phase of placing the cables on the poles underground (a committee diligently reviewed all possibilities and determined that the cost of undergrounding was beyond our ability to fundraise for and therefore, gave up on that plan), plant 32 trees in North Conway Village, provide much needed tree pruning, fertilizer, removal of dead trees in Schouler Park, etc. came from an appropriation provided through Senator John Gregg. One could certainly argue that this is tax dollars but the other side of that argument is that New Hampshire got their share of the larger pool, made up of taxes from all citizens of our nation.
The decorative light fixtures were chosen by the Citizen’s Design Review Committee before the village beautification project got underway in 2005. They were chosen because when looking at pictures of the villages from the past they were the closest in design to those in the pictures. One other consideration being taken into consideration when making the decision was the desire to light the sidewalk as well as the street. For this reason they were placed far lower on the pole then your typical Cobra Head lights which were removed to make way for decorative.
This decision made it difficult to hang a flag on the street side because it made the fixture and the flag too low, making them vulnerable to being hit. The chamber has been placing American flags on the poles for many years and we have tried all kinds of ways, including draped as a banner across the arm of the fixture and most recently on the sidewalk side of the pole. The cost has been around $1,000 for purchasing holders, flags and the labor to put them up and take them down each year for 23 of the 45 poles located from River Road to Artist Fall’s Road. It was for this reason among others that the chamber has given up the role of placing flags and wreaths on the North Conway Village poles. The chamber’s responsibility for this is a mystery at the least and gift to the community at the most.
The town of Conway made the decision to turn off street lights as a cost saving measure for all tax payers. The lights in North Conway Village follow an every other light being turned off policy while The Strip had all their lights turned out. If you recall there was an opportunity to sponsor a light which would have cost between $20 to $45 a month. I am not sure how many people contacted the Town to take advantage of this.
One of the committee members of the Mount Washington Valley Preservation Association (the organization created to determine and manage the North Conway Village beautification project. The association wrote the grant request to Senator Judd Gregg for the funds and received them along with the responsibility to be the steward of these funds) drove through North Conway Village last fall in the dark of night and was astounded at how dark it was and approached the town on how the preservation association might be able to help. It was from that conversation that we found out that the current decorative lights are not conducive to the LED bulb which means we have to buy all new decorative lights that are able to use LED bulbs. This style will be available in the spring.
Once this conversation began I also shared the community’s apparent desire for American flags and real wreaths in hopes of “killing two birds with one stone”? Nothing is simple and believe me I often feel the way you all apparently feel from your remarks that something appears to be a “no brainer” only to find out the many layers one must delve through to reach the truth of a situation so that you can begin the process of determining a fix.
This is the point at which I presented the Mount Washington Valley Preservation Association’s desire to provide the funds to allow the lights to be turned back on in the village and to re-look at the lighting on “The Strip” as well. This was recorded by Valley Vision on Jan. 4 if you wish to get more detail. At that meeting I was charged with the responsibility of determining the feasibility of “getting our cake and eating it too.” Thus my request through Valley Vision to the community to contact me with their thoughts, I have received four personal emails. I thank the Conway Daily Sun for asking this direct question in Tele-Talk as that has provided good feedback from 33 people, one of whom emailed me as well. So, in all, so far, we have received feedback from 36 individuals in a community made up of almost 10,000 people. This is why we entrust decisions like this to committees and representatives. We make our best decisions based on what we hear from the community and when we don’t hear it is left up to the individuals charged with making the decisions.
What I have found out is as follows:
• The current fixtures will not take LED bulbs.
• The placement of the decorative lights is too low for wreaths and/or flags.
• If we return to the Cobra lights with LED bulbs we would have room for decorative lights and flags.
• The poles are owned by Fairpoint which means permission must be received from them to install wreath and flags. This is a safety issue.
• I believe the cost of putting up individual poles like on the North South Road would be costly in terms of getting electricity to them which would mean disturbing the brick sidewalk and then subsequently repairing them after the work was done, not to mention the added clutter of light fixture poles and big wooden poles.
• The town of Conway’s sign ordinance would not allow banners or flags that market anything unless it is under an event permit which allows this for a specific amount of time. Therefore, no chamber flag or skis with the name of a ski area on them or tacky stuff would ever be allowed.
• LED lights come in many types and so finding the least cold and blue may be possible.
• The red flags welcoming people to Conway Village were placed there by The Conway Chamber of Commerce. Permission must be received from PSNH to place wreaths and/or flags on the poles in Conway again subject to the town of Conway sign ordinances.
• The remaining funds from the beautification grant cannot be used to reduce taxes, however, it has been used for projects which have saved taxpayers money.
• To my knowledge we have never had plastic wreaths. The ones in Conway are real.
• Placing something on the decorative light itself has the potential of conducting electricity creating a safety issue.
• I agree with those who get irritated by holiday decorations that stay up past March 15. Please remove them before they turn brown.
• With technology changing so rapidly it is very difficult for a committee to see into the future.
Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce