By Marlene and Dennis Rayner, Sedona Residents
(September 2, 2013)
Sedona does not deserve the Dark Sky designation at this time. Our formerly dark skies have been reduced 10-15% with that intrusive, unwarranted lighting .
Powerful interests always supported that lighting – refusing other dark sky friendly options in the past. This same cadre always appeared at ADOT Board meetings supporting ADOT’s lights – opposing those speaking for better solutions! Then when the 2010 newly elected Council made decisions not to their liking, this same group brought the referendum and ran a dirty scare-tactic campaign. Now they have their cake and want to eat it too.
An application for the Dark Sky designation from Keep Sedona Beautiful under President Tom O’Halleran is disingenuous. KSB under Tom O’Halleran’s leadership was silent on this issue during a most critical time. KSB previously led the opposition efforts until 2010 when their former president was elected to that new City Council, which finally opposed ADOT. Where was KSB under O’Halleran then?
Further O’Halleran is wrong. Covered light fixtures alone do not make the lighting acceptable. Besides not addressing day time safety issues that lighting installation is not “warranted” by national standards; their justification term was “engineering judgement”. This specific reason is why, post referendum, IDS supported us and attempted to mediate a compromise directly with ADOT. The IDS proposed a proven $20 automatic device for each fixture which can dim and/or shut-off lighting when traffic warrants it.
If Council wants to support the Dark Skies designation they should also pass a second resolution urging ADOT to allow installation of the IDS solution. This issue was brought up at the Sustainability Commission in 2012; it was ignored and never reached City Council. The IDS solution can be installed anytime and for very little cost.
Pushing to do the right thing is terribly important in this life. Look at our environmental and social progress because we finally saw the light after years of pushing. Otherwise ADOT can continue to do as it pleases (or pleases its ‘friends’) in Arizona without regard to real safety and the environment.
If there is such a device that can dim the traffic lights on 89A then we should use it. It has the obvious advantages of reducing energy use and also minimizing the lights that are an obstacle to seeing the beautiful night sky.
Are dark skies more important than people’s lives?
Common sense would have placed the West 89A streetlights on shorter poles in landscaped medians, where they would make pedestrian crossing safer. After all, the deaths of three pedestrians, irresponsibly crossing in traffic at night, is what gave rise to this whole issue.
But of course, ADOT didn’t care what Sedonans think. They just applied their one-size-fits-all standards, which didn’t make pedestrian crossings safer at all! They installed twice as many streetlights as needed, on both sides on high poles, resulting in twice as much reflected glare and no more safety for either pedestrians or motor traffic.
Yes, those “powerful interests” don’t like this solution. They have a knee-jerk reaction to fears of lost business – not valid at all. They passed on their unfounded fears to voters. Landscaped medians would have no adverse effect on their sales, but they’re afraid of the unknown. In fact, nicely-landscaped medians would give Sedona a more quality appearance, likely enhancing their sales income.
It’s time to do something about this issue, which has been going on for 25 years.
Would the author of this letter please tell us why “Sedona does not deserve the Dark Sky designation”. The lights installed along 89A and 179 are the same lights that are installed in Flagstaff, the first, and to my knowledge, only city, to date, to receive a “Dark Sky” designation. Flagstaff certainly has many more of these lights installed than Sedona and yet they do have the dark sky designation. So exactly what is the problem? Light pollution? I don’t think so. This sounds a whole lot like sour grapes.
The citizens of Sedona were asked twice, once by an informal Internet Poll and a second time by a formal City election. Both times the vote was a resounding “NO!!!” to the question of whether or not the City should take over that portion of 89A. The lights are up, get over it!!!
This city doesn’t have the funds to support many activities in our parks and yet these people want us to spend millions of dollars we don’t have on a problem that doesn’t really exist. Yes, ADOT would have given the city several million dollars if it took over control of that portion of 89A. What many people don’t seem to realize is that money was to maintain the highway in it’s current form for the next 5 years. If we spent that and more on the changes ADOT would require then the city would have to maintain the highway out of it’s own pocket. “Landscaped Medians”, give me a break? Where exactly do you think that money would come from? HIGHER TAXES!!! You betcha!!! You can spend your money any way you see fit. STOP trying to spend mine.
I have never understood how Sedona qualified for ‘Dark Sky’ designation at all. The lights from the stadium at Posse Grounds light up all of West Sedona sometimes until 10 or 10:30 PM. My home is up near the airport, far from the stadium, and those stadium lights fill the sky. I would appreciate understanding an explanation for this. Thank you to anyone who can provide this.