Monday, December 12, 2016

Fairhope Council Addresses 'Tree Light Gap'

Fairhope, Alabama

Update (1): To the best of our knowledge, the Facebook page mentioned at bottom has not been published yet.


In response to numerous complaints from disappointed residents and mechants, the mayor and city council authorized city staff to order additional strands of holiday lights to supplement the seven thousand already installed, which do not cover the trees as completely as in years past.

It is too late for Christmas, but Mardi Gras and other festivities follow: they are usually left up until after the March arts and crafts show.


Depending upon availability, there may be a shortage this late in the season, the additional strands of LED lights will cost about $23,500 plus another $10K for installation labor costs: a total of $45K was spent on those currently installed.

LED (light emitting diode) lighting is initially more costly than traditional incandescent, but use far less electricity to operate.

Electric superintendent Clusters said the lights take a beating for the five months they are left up  (sockets corrode) and only about ten percent can be re-used every year -- even though volunteers at the Nix Center try to untangle and repair the strands,

Mayor Wilson said a type without sockets could be used this time -- and Community Affairs Director Sullivan said alternate types of lighting will be tried on selected "test trees."

Councilman Boone wondered why this had not been a problem until this year -- and hoped it would not happen again; and Burrell said it looked like too many had been wrapped around trunks and not in upper limbs.

Clusters said orders should be placed soon for next year's lights as well.

The council verbally (straw vote) authorized ordering the lights but will have to vote formally to appropriate money at its next meeting.

One citizen spoke up against any additional lights during "public participation" -- because they would be too costly she said.

Labor costs are expensive because of the overtime required for employees: installation occurs after hours so as not to interfere with downtown parking during the day.


A new Facebook page -- 'Make Our Tree Lights Great Again' -- to seek suggestions and comments from the public should be established by Tuesday, according to Sullivan.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you have to be kidding me. Over $70,000 on lights and 25,000 to $30,000 on labor/OT this year for lights and the almighty electric department. While water, gas, recreation,and public works are made to take off for repairs, tournaments, parades, and arts and craft. They are paid the most money, drive the newest trucks and get all the overtime and can't grow out of the city limits. They do work hard and do a great job anytime there are storms, but all employees should be treated fair and equal not sent home because supervisors are scared to turn in overtime. Every department does a great job not just electric.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Fairhopians to complain about something that isn't important like tree lights and flowers.

Ya'll are embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

I noticed this as well and was very disappointed. Did councilman Boone get an answer? I would like to know why it was never a problem until this year before the city spends $33,500.

Publisher said...

Boone did not get a direct answer: apparently replacement lights were never purchased for this year.

Unknown said...

Perhaps,you could initiate a program for adopting a tree! I am sure the local school clubs, churches,mardis gras organizations and individuals would pitch in to help. Thousands of dollars could be saved and community spirit showcased!

Publisher said...

It was mentioned that a way might be found for citizens to donate to the cause.

The new Facebook page may have info ... when it is published.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see that the mayor and council recognized that this year's lights just didn't have the same magic as in past years. Fairhope generally isn't a place that does things half-heartedly. The lights at Christmastime are one of many things about this place that make it so special.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple things in my opinion that set Fairhope apart from other cities and that is the yearly white lights and seasonal changing of flowers. To a few it may seem like a waste of money but I believe it pays for itself with increased tourism and locals frequenting downtown more often. This results in additional sales tax and revenue dollars for the city coffers which more than likely outweighs the cost of the lights. Now, I guess you could take away the white lights and flowers but Fairhope would then be just like any other city. Regardless of what anyone thinks downtown Fairhope is what draws people to visit and move here. Being able to walk around a town that is pedestrian friendly and beautiful (white lights/flowers) brings tax dollars in. Anyway, I've lived here 8 years and every year the white lights have been perfect. This year they aren't. I hope the mayor and council hold the person (manager) accountable that oversaw the installation of the lights and ensure they are fixed next year. Bring them in and get to the bottom of this. I suggest that the Fairhope Single Tax Organization purchase the lights yearly. This would be a good use for the extra rent they take in yearly and I believe goes along with their philosphy of giving back to Fairhope. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

So we should just ignore all of the infrastructure issues like roads, schools, drainage, sewer capacity so you can have holiday lights and flowers?

Anonymous said...

Agree the lights aren't quite perfect. Maybe not enough to go up all the way. We do have new trees these last couple years that aren't as bushy. I really hand it to the city guys, but this year looks like some laziness in getting them into the trees instead of the trunks. We all have a new adustment to make in the Mayor turn over. Let's just give it a chance.

Anonymous said...

After looking at the pictures, it is an embarrassment. Why so many lights on the trunks and not on the trees. Is someone purposely trying to make our new mayor bad, since King Kant had a beautiful city? This is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh! here come more crazy conspiracy theories right out of pages of the Rip Repor .

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone persist in blaming our new Mayor for the so-called 'shoddy' tree lights? These lights were on the trees long before Karin Wilson's administration began. It seems that there is almost a coordinated effort going on to try to make her look incompetent and I find that deeply disturbing.
I don't know her personally but it is clear that she loves Fairhope and she was elected by a lot of people who felt duped by Mayor Kant and his government, so just chill out and let her get the facts and see what she can do; I doubt that we will be disappointed. I hope that ALL of our city council members are trying to cooperate with her. I read that one of them has guaranteed to make her quit within a year and I hope that it is just someone spreading a bad rumor.

Anonymous said...

I read this and can't believe that people are actually complaining about tree lights. The real problem that has risen from this is why some employees get paid overtime and some sent home. Did someone actually say it looked like the employees were lazy that's why the trees look that way and want Mayor Wilson to look bad.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what are the real objectives of the elected officials of the city of Fairhope.

Many complain about traffic, the loss of the city charm, but then want projects that bring visitors to downtown. I hear people complain about the traffic, but then we all want local business to flourish.

Everyone needs to realize that in order for local businesses to flourish, the city is going to have traffic. When traffic dies, so does a city, that traffic is money coming into Fairhope.

Land entitlements is a part of land ownership when entitlements are restricted then property values decline, something no one in Fairhope really wants.

I look forward to seeing how this new council operates, how all these newly elected individuals manage the city.

Sandman said...

This year's Semi-Lighting of the trees was surprisingly disappointing. Fairhope citizens pay taxes, in part, for enhancements such as this that reflect our unique community character. It's who we are. Stop me if you've heard this one: If it's not worth doing right, it's not worth doing.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is for two months the election was won on keeping outside people out. Stop growth, stop outsiders, stop young people from having a place to live, stop lower income people out. Now that the lights don't look good Fairhope is doomed. Oh by the way lights on a tree is not what Christmas is about.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sandman……but, if we don't stop this uncontrolled permitting of subdivisions with NO CONTRIBUTIONS to the infrastructure or schools, etc, Fairhope will be a Ghost Town before 2018. I hope that our new government will push out the old opportunists and goobers that are ruining QOL and enriching the goobers!

Anonymous said...

I also agree with Sandman and with the comment about the uncontrolled subdivision growth. The developers are making millions at the expense of the city and its quality of life. Issue a moratorium on permits until fair impact fees can be assessed so that the city gets something back. I don't understand why it is taking so long for the new administration to address this; they keep discussing it at the meetings but continue to kick the can down the road to allow more new permits? I read that Kevin Boone refused to back the moratorium at the last meeting. I don't understand the difficulty in just saying 'stop' and let us catch up and see what is fair; barring that, just refuse to turn on utilities to properties until impact fees are collected in arrears!

Anonymous said...

The good old boy greedy self interest is very entrenched and strong in Fairhope. Nothing is going to really change for the better until the last few Kant era holdouts on the city council are voted out and replaced. The same is true for the city planning commission and the airport authority board.