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 Eureka Springs Dark Skies Ordinance
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arkozarks
 Saturday, March 25 2006 @ 01:26 am EST (Read 9095 times)  
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The city of Eureka Springs, AR is considering a dark sky ordinance to regulate all lighting in the city; similar to Arkansas' new shielded lighting law. Please let the city know that you support such a law, and how it can help all citizens (not just astronomers).

A brief email to the Planning Commission Chair and the Mayor would be appreciated.
Mayor Kathy Harrison: mayor@cityofeurekasprings.org
Planning Commission chair Leah Karnes: leahk36@sbcglobal.net


Thanks,
Sam in Eureka Springs, AR




 
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bobmoody
 Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 09:57 pm EDT  
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Cry Hello, Sam.

I cry from the news that the AR lighting law has been dealt a death blow by recent changes from those we send to make the laws for the state. It's shameful how badly what could have been a good beginning has been butchered into a worthless, crumpled scrap of paper.

I know that similar things have happened before and that sometimes an individual town has made all the difference in getting things turned around after such poor judgements have been made. I don't know that it will do any good, but what I do know is that if I sit back and do nothing, I can in no way guarantee that Eureka Springs won't follow the same course. If all it takes is a letter to the Planning Commission or the Mayor, then that's an easy enough thing to do that will at least show them that we do care about taking back the night skies. Once they can be shown how much savings might be realized by utilizing the properly sheilded lighting fixturers, maybe, just maybe they'll listen and adopt some form of lighting restrictions that can make a difference to your area.

I hope you will be able to help with this effort, Sam. Someone in the town must be a voice there. We'll try to help as we can, and we'll see where this can go.


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arkozarks
 Tuesday, April 18 2006 @ 04:50 pm EDT  
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Quote by bobmoody:...I cry from the news that the AR lighting law has been dealt a death blow by recent changes from those we send to make the laws for the state.

...I can in no way guarantee that Eureka Springs won't follow the same course...

I blame Entergy.

They used the law as an excuse to add ridiculous rate increases to the tariff, for shielded fixtures that cost little more than non-shielded fixtures. And instead of offering inexpensive SkyGard/Skycap fixtures, they are only offering cobra heads.

Also part of the law's intent was to encourage energy savings, but what did Entergy do? They increased the minimum wattage fixture available in a shielded version from 100w to 150w. I find it odd that SWEPCO in NWA is offering shielded fixtures with no rate increases, while entergy found it necessary to gouge cities and anyone else who wants a shielded light.

Eureka Springs is going ahead with the shielded fixtures for the city because of the energy savings. SWEPCO's fixtures are 100w HPS, vs 175w MV for most existing Eureka fixtures. And Eureka Planning Commission is interested in a comprehensive shielded lighting regulation. They even held a workshop on shielded lighting last month and invited the public and two employees from SWEPCO. There is even an article on shielded lighting in the current edition of the weekly Eureka paper.
http://lovelycitizen.com/cgi-bin/news/fullnews.cgi?newsid1144888244,32940,


The main problem in Eureka Springs is excessively bright 1000w MH floods at private businesses that are sending half or more of their light up into the sky, due to poor aiming.


 
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bobmoody
 Tuesday, April 18 2006 @ 09:11 pm EDT  
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Some of this you're relating here speaks of coercion or even blackmail of a sort. Your response would indicate to me that you already have considerable knowledge of the lighting situation within the area and I wonder if you might consider sending some of this information to the IDA and see if anything like this has been encountered before. They may have ways to help expose these practices. It stinks no matter how we look at it, however.

What else can you relate to me regarding what Eureka Springs has planned? I might also like to have some more information on who some of these companies are that practice the light trespass, too. The most I can do, however, is to simply write the email you suggested in the first place. The more I know of what's going on though, the better.

Actually, though, I don't really need to know any more than I do. Here we go.........

Bob


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arkozarks
 Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 09:22 am EDT  
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Quote by bobmoody: Some of this you're relating here speaks of coercion or even blackmail of a sort...

...What else can you relate to me regarding what Eureka Springs has planned? I might also like to have some more information on who some of these companies are that practice the light trespass, too.

I'm sorry, but I'm a bit confused about the blackmail or coercion you mention. If it's on the part of Entergy, I think all they did was seize an opportunity to jack up rates for street light fixtures that they *thought* every city in AR would have to use. But their doubled rates backfired on them when small towns shocked at the ridiculous prices for new street lights from Entergy, got together and contacted chambers of commerce, representatives and lobbyists to get the lighting bill watered down so they wouldn't really have to use the more expensive (in Entergy territory) lights.

What these towns should've done was investigate why Entergy raised their rates so much for shielded lighting, while at least one other utility in the state (SWEPCO) didn't raise rates at all. A SWEPCO manager told me the cost of shielded fixtures in bulk was "not much more" than the non-shielded versions.

The Eureka Springs planning commission is interested in a shielded lighting ordinance for all lighting in the city, but has done nothing so far. That's all I know.

The very worst lighting here is along hwy 62, outside the historic distric. These businesses have 1000w MH floods aimed almost horizontally. The blinding glare shines right into your eyes as you enter their parking lots, and half the light is wasted up into the sky.

The three worst offenders are:
Holiday Inn Express
3010 E Van Buren
Eureka Springs AR 72632

Best Western Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center
207 W Van Buren St
Eureka Springs AR 72632

Queen Anne Mansion (tour home)
111 W Van Buren
Eureka Springs AR 72632


 
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bobmoody
 Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 06:47 pm EDT  
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Hi, Sam.

Well, I'm SO glad to hear that the small towns were able to work together that way. I took some time last night to put some thoughts together and am ready to send to the Mayor and Planning Commission head. I specifically mentioned the problem of glare so it should (I hope) address the very thing you wish it to.

I wonder who the person was who ever thought that shining light "upwards" was the way to go? And why do people choose to keep doing so? A letter to the editor of the local newspeper might get responses from other citizens that are bothered by the lights just as you are, and bothered enough to want to express their concerns. That might get some action from a local business. Should you choose to, you might also contact the IDA through our link exchange and let them know about this. The Holiday Inn especially might be targeted through some of their larger campaigns.

As I said before, I hope that Eureka Springs takes a visionary role in getting strong lighting laws implemented which could see the type of light trespass as you describe banned within your city limits. It would be a good start. Sometimes it takes the cities with strong links to their past such as Flagstaff, AZ and possibly Eureka Springs, AR, to get larger concerns on a statewide level addressed with regards to better, more intellegent lighting laws. Those "yesteryear" businesses and concerns that set Eureka Springs apart from the rest of the state, and that give you the uniqueness that makes you different should also reflect how the populations from those time periods also enjoyed a darker sky.

We wish your city the best of luck with this worthy goal.

My response, sent 042006 approx 17:55hrs:

Greetings Ms. Karnes and Mayor Harrison:

My name is Bob Moody and I am president of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society in the Van Buren/ Ft Smith area of western Arkansas. A concerned citizen of Eureka Springs recently posted a note on the discussion forum board of our club website asking that someone send a short email to you encouraging you to seriously consider adopting local laws regarding properly sheilded lighting for your city. I have decided that I would like to make this effort.

As an amateur astronomer, my goal is dark skies for better seeing with my telescope. But dark skies isn't the reason for you to consider requiring proper lighting codes for Eureka Springs. The primary factor is safety, followed very closely by money. The International Dark-Sky Association, of which AOAS is a member organization, is a world leader in the effort to promote the goal of returning to the darker skies of our forefathers. It is a vanishing resource that is seldom considered as such. But through the efforts of IDA and many leading lighting industry companies, much research has been done which shows that properly sheilded lighting can vastly improve how well virtually everything is illuminated during the evening hours, and by doing so an important safety concern is also addressed, that of dangerous glare. By taking direct light sources out of the eyes of nighttime drivers, we greatly increase their ability to see more clearly. By putting more light directly on the ground instead of allowing it to filter upwards into the air, we take away darker shadows where more criminal activity can occur. Allowing lights to point upwards hinders safety of drivers and provides darkers shadows for those seeking them. I know that you have considered proper sheilding for your lights, and I urge you to consider laws to reverse the dangerous practice of allowing lights to point skyward.

If you have taken the time to read this much of my message, you owe it to yourselves, your city and its budget to look more carefully at these factors by going to the website of the International Dark-Sky Association at: http://www.darksky.org/ and find the hard facts to back up my suggestions for searching just a little deeper. It's your citizens that will benefit, and if a few of them happen to be amateur astronomers, then all the better for my efforts.

Thank you for your time. Please visit our website as well at: http://www.aoas.org

Bob Moody


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arkozarks
 Friday, April 21 2006 @ 08:46 am EDT  
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Quote by bobmoody: ... I wonder who the person was who ever thought that shining light "upwards" was the way to go? And why do people choose to keep doing so? A letter to the editor of the local newspeper might get responses from other citizens that are bothered by the lights just as you are, and bothered enough to want to express their concerns...

Bob,
Thanks for taking the time to write a very thoughtful letter. It is appreciated. The Planning Commission here is excellent. Hopefully they will "see the light" on the safety, health and aesthetic problems of modern high intensity outdoor lighting and why it should be regulated.

I have written to the editor of the local newspaper about their article on shielded lighting, and I mentioned why I believed private outdoor lighting should be regulated. So far, my letter has not been published.

regards,
Sam


 
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arkozarks
 Monday, September 04 2006 @ 12:48 pm EDT  
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Eureka Springs lighting update:

Eureka Springs Planning commission has not yet enacted a lighting ordinance, but they still hope to do so. However, they recently contacted SWEPCO and asked them to upgrade existing non-FCO municipal streetlights in Eureka Springs to FCO.

Most of the fixtures here are NEMA barnyard glare bombs. SWEPCO will be retrofitting them with GE Skygard® FCO shields. Most are 175w MV, but many of them are only 75watt and very old.


 
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bobmoody
 Monday, September 04 2006 @ 03:03 pm EDT  
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Hello, Sam. LTNS.

Keep us updated on how this keeps evolving. It sounds like they want to do better, but I also seem to hear that they're slow to act. Sometimes that's how it is. But as long as little steps forward keep coming, we may someday see the "light" shining at the end of this tunnel.

Later
Bob


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arkozarks
 Monday, September 04 2006 @ 03:31 pm EDT  
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Quote by bobmoody: Hello, Sam. LTNS.

Keep us updated on how this keeps evolving. It sounds like they want to do better, but I also seem to hear that they're slow to act.

I will keep you updated as soon as I see the retrofits going up.

The planning commission wants to get a good lighting ordinance on the books here and they actually do care about dark sky and glare issues. The problem is they are all unpaid volunteers, swamped with work and currently have 2 or 3 vacancies on the commission. I was asked about being on Planning, but I don't live IN the city limits, so I cannot do so.

The ordinance will happen in time, but on Eureka Time. One has to live here to know the true meaning of that.

Council members and commissioners here get a lot of criticism. They would appreciate any emails thanking them for their efforts so far to get the existing lights retrofitted.

leahk36@sbcglobal.net Leah Karnes (planning commission chair)
pennecarroll@hotmail.com Penny Carroll
weaverlorinoel@hotmail.com Lori Weaver
rdberry@arkansas.net Butch Berry
mrssleepy@ipa.net Beverly Blankenship
cool72vett@yahoo.com Terry McClung
cityclerk@cityofeurekasprings.org M J Sell
mayor@cityofeurekasprings.org Kathy Harrison


 
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bobmoody
 Wednesday, October 25 2006 @ 01:31 am EDT  
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Hello again, Sam.

I haven't heard much from the Eureka Springs area regarding their considerations of installing proper lighting fixtures in their town. As you can see, we have a LARGE number of "hits" looking at this topic and probably wondering like myself, "What's happening with the Eureka Springs planning folks?" I hope things are heading in a favorable direction with the issue at hand.

I decided to pen another letter to the people you gave addresses for in the above post. I share the content of this latest letter with you below and with everyone who keeps looking at this forum topic to see what's new.

Please let us know as soon as something starts, or even stops. Either way, many people who visit our site still want to know how you're doing.

Thanks, Sam.

Bob
/////////////////////


Hello to you all.

We in AOAS are still maintaining an active discussion forum on our website regarding Eureka Springs and your possible adoption of lighting laws and/or restrictions. We have had well over 550 "hits" on this topic alone, and we are still hoping for the best outcome in this matter.

As a city which cherishes its historical past, I would suspect that you have all at one time or another, looked at your city and felt a connection to the founding families and citizens of your community from the 19th Century. If you've ever been fortunate enough to have been in a dark location on a clear and moonless night, and been rapt in awe at the beauty you find in a sky so thickly studded with stars of every brightness that you're simply overwhelmed by the scene, then don't you owe it to the spirit of your founding fathers to help bring that kind of wonder and beauty back to Eureka Springs' night sky as well?

Doing what's right and continually looking for things that establish or return you to the aesthetically pleasing look and feel of yesteryear will keep everyone reminded of those times. It is, after all, the very thing that so many of your tourist visitors come to you to experience. A dark nighttime sky is one of those things that can help return you to the feel of those times in the evening as much as anything you do to maintain that atmosphere for daytime visitors. Wouldn't it be fitting to give your visitors and citizens the feel of how everything was back then, in both daytime and nighttime?

It's the fact that properly sheilded lighting fixtures deter light trespass and improve how well everyone sees things in the evening hours that should help you decide to do this. The added benefit of lower electric bills is certainly an added little extra to help persuade you into action. Taking away dangerous glare from the safety point-of-view is another strong selling point towards adoption of such laws and regulations.

It is NOT my place to say how you run your city and how you decide to address the issue of proper lighting laws. It's my passion to see all I can through my telescopes in a truly dark sky that drives me and other astronomers to encourage you to consider the benefits, as well as the detriments regarding this issue. Weigh the facts....ALL the facts and then decide. Properly sheilded lighting fixtures are smarter, are more aesthetically pleasing, and are cheaper in the long run.

You owe it to yourselves to make the move to a darker sky and restore as much of what your grandfathers and great-grandfathers enjoyed from a star-studded sky over Eureka Springs, Arkansas from the late 1800's. Please visit the International Dark-Sky Association at www.darksky.org for the hard, cold facts about what I've mentioned here. Visit also our website at www.aoas.org and see how much people care about what you do in this beautiful, quaint, historically significant town. More people than you can imagine are watching to see just what you do.

All my best wishes.......

Bob Moody


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arkozarks
 Wednesday, October 25 2006 @ 11:03 am EDT  
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Bob,

SWEPCO has slowly begun replacing existing unshielded MV fixtures with shielded HPS fixtures in Eureka Springs. Work has been slowed, due to an employee's recent illness.

Unfortnately, regulations for privately owned lighting here have not been passed. Planning wants to do this, but the unpaid staff is overworked and has several vacancies on the commission, so lighting has taken a back burner to other items on their agenda.


 
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bobmoody
 Thursday, October 26 2006 @ 04:49 pm EDT  
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Having sent several Eureka Springs city officials messages about our concerns about changing their lighting ordinances, I received a reply from Mary Jean Sell, City Clerk. She has graciously agreed to allow me to post her reply in this forum......

From Mary Jean Sell

Mr. Moody,
The Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Historic District Commission have made recommendations to our local electric company to have our existing street lights retrofitted with light shields to direct lighting downward. The Planning Commission is discussing an ordinance regarding new street lighting. We are in the process of modifying our sign ordinance with regard to lighting. We are always a work in progress.
Thank you for your interest in Eureka Springs.
Mary Jean Sell, City Clerk


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arkozarks
 Thursday, October 26 2006 @ 05:40 pm EDT  
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Bob,
City clerk MJ Sell is one of the nicest people in Eureka Springs city government. I am not surprised she contacted you.

Below is the part of the new comprehensive sign ordinance that deals with stray light from lighted signs. This ordinance will be signed into law in November and will be effective 30 days later. The understaffed Planning Commision has worked on the sign ordinance for a long time. Hopefully, they'll tackle outdoor lighting regulations next.


WHEREAS, the Vision Plan for the city recommends regulating signage in the city in the interest of public safety and to reduce visual pollution

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission finds the current regulations regarding signs as codified in Eureka Springs Municipal Code, Chapter 7.84, are in need of amendment in order to attain these goals,

NOW THEREFORE, be it hereby ordained, by the City Council of the City of Eureka Springs, Arkansas that Chapter 7.84 of the Eureka Springs Municipal Code regarding sign regulations is amended thus:

Section 7.84.07(A) is replaced with the sentence. External light sources shall be directed and shielded to limit direct illumination of any object other than the sign.

[No maximum lumen limits are included, but the original draft included maximum "wattage" limitations of 150w incandescent or 70w "other." Other was only defined as metal halide and halogen. This wattage limitation was removed in the final ordinance.]


 
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bobmoody
 Friday, October 27 2006 @ 01:16 pm EDT  
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Hi, Sam.

Things look better all the time! Eureka Springs can, assuming things keep headed in the direction they are currently, become the model city in Arkansas as far as how light pollution can be recognized and modified with the idea to limit its ill effects on the night sky. Safety and money are strong motivators for positive change.

I'd like to suggest that you approach one or more photographers in the city about partnering with you to record for posterity the way things are now (asap) versus how they may turn out to be greatly improved in the near future. They'd have to work with you on the buddy system and they'd have to rely on wider exposure for their "pay" from this effort.

The photographer's name would be on all the images that would record the changes as they are made, and if ES really does end up a changed city from this effort, then there would be statewide attention and publicity which would greatly expand the photographer's advertising base. I would point them in the direction of the IDA to get a good idea of how the IDA's pictures reflect the differences between good lighting and bad lighting. A brochure would be a likely vehicle to spread the word about this, and they'd always be mentioned in everything regarding this for who knows how long into the future. I'd hope that they'd see this as a sufficient benefit to get them to agree to participate in the effort.

Exposure to the benefits of better lighting could be used as a selling point for other cities to consider following ES's lead. In particular, my hometown of Van Buren could be another possible city to tackle this issue. The "look and feel" of VB is very similar to those of ES and there are other cities in AR that might also consider changing if they see other cities doing so. If things keep changing in ES, I will HAVE TO approach the VB city administration about considering changes in their own ordinances.

I probably should begin to consider this right away. You've set an example that I might be able to duplicate right here in my area. Myself and our club members will begin to address the possibilities of approaching the VB entities in the near future.

You should be proud of what you've done in Eureka Springs, Sam. The effort is still ongoing and I have faith that you have started something that will eventually be beneficial to the citizens and amateur astronomers of your town. I congratulate you and I know you'll continue the fight to a successful conclusion.

Thanks, Sam!


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arkozarks
 Friday, October 27 2006 @ 03:38 pm EDT  
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Bob,

A good starting place in your hometown is to make sure the city and local power company are on the same page regarding the new shielded lighting law. Unless the city has specifically opted out of the law due to prohibitive cost, they must use only shielded fixtures for all new publicly funded outdoor lighting.

This includes "historical" acorn fixtures that so many towns seem to be crazy about these days. They are pretty in the daytime, but most look as bad as a bare bulb at night. Remind them that they can still legally use these fixtures if they are used mainly for decorative purposes, with 150w incandescent or 70watt HID maximum wattage. Otherwise, they are required to use shielded fixtures, by law.

Hopefully, you don't have ENTERGY Ark. as your elect. provider. They are not dark sky friendly at all, and they doubled the rates for shielded fixtures vs non-shielded. This caused some small towns to opt-out of the shielded lighting law, which they legally can do if they find the costs "prohibitive"....


 
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arkozarks
 Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 12:39 pm EST  
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Yea!

SWEPCO has begun replacing the street lights in Eureka Springs with Full Cutoff fixtures. They are using older looking GE Skygard fixtures in the historic district and modern GE flat lens cobra heads in the rest of town.

The went a step further than just adding the shields. They are taking down the Mercury Vapor lights and replacing them with 100w HP Sodium fixtures.

There's a picture of one of the Skygard fixtures in Eureka's weekly newspaper.
Scroll down to photo #6 on this page.


 
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bobmoody
 Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 02:10 pm EST  
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Big Grin OUTSTANDING!!!

This is great to hear and I just posted my thoughts about it in the Eureka Springs newspaper thru the web link mentioned above. I am SOOO glad to see at least the beginnings of an effort to make their skies night-sky friendly. A TRULY forward-looking decision.

Keep up the good work, folks.
Bob


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