Council favors lighting private alley along Brown Street
Up to $230 for electricity would be paid for in a year
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After more than 20 minutes of discussion Monday night, the Rhinelander City Council voted 6-1 in favor of paying for the electricity to light a private alley where problems have been reported at night between 28 and 38 N. Brown St.
The amended motion passed by the council calls for the city’s cost not to exceed $230 a year and to be reviewed in a year. Alderman Steve Sauer, who cast the lone dissenting vote, questioned having the city pay to light a private alley and whether electricity costs would even go up with LED lights replacing the current lights.
“I have no idea how much power the lights that are currently there use,” Sauer said. “But I would suspect that replacing those fixtures with LED fixtures is actually going to save the building more in money.”
Former Downtown Rhinelander Incorporated executive director and current Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Maggie Steffen, who backed the installation of LED lights in the alley, spoke in favor of the project involving a partnership with the city, property owners and DRI.
“The bottom line is that this is kind of a continuation of several things going on in the sense of Streetscape, keeping and fixing an area that is problematic as well as it’s not going to be a huge budget item,” Steffen said.
Steffen provided the city with a letter from Gabor Electric related to possible options for lighting the alley. In that letter, Dave Gabor recommended an option to place five, 75-watt LED building lights on the Meinen Building (Fenlon Hotel) at a price of $2,800 and also estimated the annual cost to operate those lights at night at $230.
Steffen said Earl “Butch” Meinen, who owns the property the lights would be installed on, has agreed to contribute to the project.
“He is looking at maybe perhaps doing actual metal work for an archway,” Steffen said. “He for sure is going to either contribute the actual pieces or the funds to add benches and things like that, so he’s very invested in the project.
To be able to do the project, Steffen said nothing can be done without the alley being lit, which is where the city is involved.
Alderman Alex Young said he expects the street light budget will be saving “as substantial amount” from the LED lighting being installed with the Streetscape project to be able to offset $230 for electricity to light the alley.
“It’s a small contribution towards a partnership between DRI and some of the other partners to do some of the things in the Streetscape project that we weren’t able to finance in the initial project,” Young said.
Alderman Tom Gleason added that the majority of comments made on social media about the proposal to light the alley had been overwhelmingly in support of the city to pay $230 a year for the electricity.
“They all understand that it’s a safety issue to light this alley up and clean it up a little bit,” Gleason said.