Stretch of Main Street dark as Danville waits for ‘streetscape’ approval

Published 11:07 am Friday, January 12, 2018

A stretch of Danville’s Main Street is being left in the dark every night, prompting a building owner to complain to Danville City Commission about the non-functioning street lights.

“My sister and I … we bought the building there five years ago and the lights have not worked the whole time,” Nancy Davis said Monday during the city commission’s “hear the public” agenda item.

Davis’ building is in between the Community Arts Center and Danville Bike and Footwear, on the same block as Danville City Hall. The building houses Tut’s Egyptian restaurant and WKYB 107.5.

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Davis said she had heard a “streetscape” project planned for Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets would resolve the lighting issue, but didn’t know when that project might ever move forward.

“If it’s not going to be forthcoming at any point, maybe there’s some type of solar light that could be put there or something?” she said. “It’s very dark. It’s hard enough competing on this end of town.”

Davis said her tenants have been complaining to her about the lack of lighting.

City Engineer Earl Coffey said the lights on that stretch of Main Street do not work because the “conduits collapsed.”

Photos by Ben Kleppinger/
Downtown building owner Nancy Davis addresses Danville City Commission this week during the commission’s “hear the public” agenda item.

Davis said she believed the street lights in front of Danville City Hall also do not work, but Coffey said those lights have been repaired — there was a way to fix those that can’t be replicated on the lights in front of Tut’s.

Monday and Wednesday nights after 7 p.m., a reporter observed the street lights in front of Danville City Hall and they were not illuminated. Coffey had not replied as of Thursday to an email asking about the status of those lights.

Coffey said Monday night that the streetscape project will indeed rectify the situation, once the city is authorized to move forward.

“Ironically, the lighting plan is outstanding,” he noted.

Danville received initial approval several years ago for the Fourth-to-Fifth streetscape — a $350,000 project funded largely by grant money, with an estimated $84,250 coming from the city’s general fund. But since then, the city has been waiting for the state to grant final approval.

Danville City Engineer Earl Coffey explains he can’t guess as to when the state will issue final approval for a “streetscape” project that would restore light to a stretch of Main Street.

Because of the length of time that has passed, the city had to resubmit a new lighting plan for the street in order to meet new standards, officials have said previously. That new lighting plan has been given to the state and was designed to meet all of the state’s requirements, but the state has yet to give approval, Coffey said Monday.

Davis asked if Coffey could ballpark when that project might move forward.

“I would shudder to predict,” Coffey said. “I really can’t say … it could happen in two weeks, but realistically, we don’t know.”

City Commissioner Rick Serres asked if it would be legal to add temporary lighting on the street while the city waits.

Coffey said there are “other lights” on the same block that “provide background lighting.”

“It doesn’t necessarily accomplish the level of light … that she is seeking,” Coffey said. “It’s a question of do you want to invest money in the short-term knowing that eventually, we’re going to be replacing those? It’s a judgment call; we have not pursued that until now.”

“It’s only been there five years we’ve had no lights, but I would be willing to look and see what’s out there and maybe if there is something economical and bring it back to the (city commission),” Davis said. “… I know there’s quite a few new options on the market now with solar lighting.”

City Commissioner Denise Terry said, “I have run that block and it’s pretty dark there. It’s pretty hard to see the sidewalk and it’s uneven.”

Streetlights in front of Danville City Hall are seen not illuminated Monday night.