Miramar City Hall's bright idea has some glaring

High bills, complaints dim lights

MIRAMAR--It seemed like a bright idea: Surround the new City Hall with more than 200 lights, to keep it secure and showcase its grand design.
But complaints from residents about glare and higher electric bills led the city to whittle the wattage.
"They are too bright when all of them are on," said City Manager Robert Payton. "For several months when the building was not complete, we left all the lights on for security purposes. We've now toned them down."
Officials decided the lights would be on in full force only during city commission meetings and special events at City Hall on Miramar Boulevard and Red Road.
It's on those special nights that motorists and passersby glower about the glare from the 175-watt bulbs on the 30 light poles in the courtyard area.
"There are all these lights and every pole is lit up," said resident Trevor Johnson. "It's not the Pentagon and I want to know who is paying for it."
Taxpayers foot the light bill, which was running close to $24,000 a month before the lights were turned down, said Tim Kennett, the city's administrative officer. Recently, the bill has been cut to about $14,000. "We're seeing savings," Kennett said.
When City Hall was on the east side, Kennett said the city spent about $12,500 on lighting, including the cost at some of the city's annexes.
At the new complex, which opened in August, the first complaints came from homeowners in the neighboring Villages of Renaissance, who said the bright lights were shining directly into their back yards.
As a result, the lights on one side of the building were toned down. Payton said the lights appear so bright because the building sits alone on the 54-acre site and that as the complex is developed it will be less noticeable.
Although the glow adds a stately element to the building, some say they miss the view they once had.
Christopher Hernandez said before the complex was built, he would go to the site to see the night sky.
"As Miramar continues to move forward, we're losing open space, we're losing nature and we're losing the view of the night sky," he said. "The center is beautiful, but the lights are excessive."

(source) Sun Sentinel (Georgia East) 4-10-05