The Winthrop Town Council has accepted an offer to retrofit downtown streetlights to be more “dark sky” friendly — at little or no cost to the town.
At last week’s council meeting, Kyrie Jardin explained the proposal to the council, seeking its support. Although Jardin is a founding member of the Methow Dark Sky Coalition, a nonprofit devoted to reducing light pollution in the valley, he said he was acting as an individual and not part of the organization. Jardin and his wife, Kathleen, own Methow Reservations as well as properties in town.
Jardin noted that, several years ago, four streetlights on Highway 20 near the Winthrop Barn were retrofitted with metal rings to direct light downward. Glare from the streetlight was causing problems for drivers.
Jardin told the council that he will retrofit at least 33 other downtown streetlights with similar glare-reducing rings — at a cost of $1 to engage him as a licensed contractor.
The rings won’t cost anything either, Jardin said, because they have already been manufactured as a project by Barry Stromberger’s Liberty Bell High School welding class. Jardin donated the cost of materials for the metal rings. The new rings will be sandblasted to create a weathered effect consistent with the town’s Westernization code. Jardin is a member of the town’s Westernization Design Review Board.
Jardin said the rings will be simple to install with three self-tapping screws — which could be easily removed if the retrofitting isn’t satisfactory, he said.
Mayor Sally Ranzau said the town had a couple of concerns: the proposal was “thrown in our laps without any input from the town,” and Public Works Director Jeff Sarvis raised the issue of the town’s liability for installation.
That said, Ranzau added that she has heard a lot of support for the project. Jardin said his licensed contractor status protects the town from liability issues.
After a short, favorable discussion, council members informally approved the proposal.
In other business, the council approved appointment of artist Marti Darling to the Westernization Design Review Board. Two positions on the seven-member board are still open.
Earlier, Jardin had separately inquired if Winthrop could create a Tree Board, similar to the Twisp group that has been active in that town. Ranzau said the town already has a Tree Board, but it has no members. “You can re-form the board if you can find volunteers for it,” Ranzau said.