Belleville considers adding LED string lights downtown

News-DemocratFebruary 27, 2014 

— Strands of LED lights will adorn downtown Belleville if city leaders approve tax increment financing for the project.

Mayor Mark Eckert said the lights will add a nice ambiance to downtown, be another feature to attract visitors and more lighting will make the area safer.

"I think this helps us take downtown to the next level," Eckert said.

Each strand of bulbs will be hooked from one 20-foot black lamp post to another, creating a canopy over vehicles.

The strings of LED, or light-emitting diode, will stretch from Third and Main streets on the west end of downtown, near Governor French Academy, to Charles and Main streets on the east end, near Grimm and Gorly.

A few LED light strings are on display now at Church and East Main streets, by the Belleville 200th Memorabilia Store at 227 E. Main St.

Eckert said the lights are similar to those on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. The St. Louis lights are not LED, but they are up year-round.

The cost of materials is $50,000.

The city will share the cost of materials with Belleville Main Street and the Downtown Development and Redevelopment Commission.

The city will pay $25,000 from TIF District No. 2 and the other two groups will contribute $12,500 each.

The issue will go next to the aldermanic Finance Committee meeting set for 7 p.m. March 10.

Geri Boyer, president of Belleville Main Street and a member of the Downtown Development and Redevelopment Commission, said the lights should last about 18 to 20 years.

Outages will not be noticeable until more than 10 percent of the bulbs are out, Boyer added. Also, to address concerns of some downtown merchants, the lights will be installed at a height that will not affect delivery trucks.

Tom Bell, of Glaenzer Electric, estimated the cost of electricity to be less than 25 cents per block per night.

Boyer, co-founder of Kaskaskia Engineering Group, said Belleville Main Street will consider paying the electricity bill if it becomes a "noticeable amount" on the city's bill.

The street lamps, erected along Main Street in a $7 million streetscape improvement project in 2008, already come with hooks to support the lights.

The lights will be installed by the same city employees who put up the city's Christmas decorations, Eckert said.

According to Belleville Finance Director Jamie Maitret, TIF District No. 2 has a balance of $107,000, including cash and investments.

TIF 2 is expected to bring in about $63,000 in 2014-15, which is what it typically draws, Maitret said.

TIF 2 expires in 2017. Up until last year, the city paid an annual $30,000 rebate per out of TIF 2 per a business agreement to the building at 23 Public Square that houses Bank of America and the law firm, Mathis, Marifian & Richter.

The boundaries of TIF 2 are Illinois 159 to Jackson Street, and East A Street to East Main Street.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 618-239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

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