Lower East Side BID Proposing New Essex Street Lighting

Posted on: November 11th, 2011 at 6:09 am by

In an attempt to promote safety and neighborhood business in one fell swoop, the Lower East Side BID is proposing a new lighting scheme along the entire length of the Essex Street corridor.  From East Houston to Canal Street.

Within the last couple years, the BID came into $300,000 of capital grant money courtesy of the Borough President’s office.  The funds are earmarked specifically for this project, but with a limited timeframe of 12-16 months.  So Wednesday night, representative Tim Laughlin argued their collective case to the transportation committee to replace the decorative “Bishop’s Crook” street lamps with more modern (i.e. homogenous) technology.  Indeed, the proposal calls for 28 LED-equipped “WM” highway-style poles along this stretch, matching similar intentions for both Allen and East Houston.  The more outdated stockpile would then be redistributed to “contextually appropriate locations” on Norfolk, Suffolk, Stanton, and Rivington.

The proposal initially seemed like a no-brainer for the board to approve, however it was met with some static by preservation-minded community folk living south of Grand Street. The argument hinged upon the gradual dismantling of Lower East Side character, with the elimination of the Bishop’s Crook poles from Essex as the latest battle front.  As such, the BID was accused of essentially sterilizing the neighborhood, and impinging on this particular area which doesn’t fall within their jurisdiction.

But there’s another dimension to the story, as the Public Design Commission (“PDC”) helming the project no longer approves the installation of these antique-style Bishop’s Crook fixtures. Ergo, adding more units was not even an option.  So the BID played the stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place card, especially since the BDP is not known for bowing to community pressure (kinda defeats the purpose, no?).  The board decided to table the issue for the time being.

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