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Maine Town Sees LED Streetlights Paying for Themselves Fast

The LED conversion, which is budgeted at $240,000, is part of a Capital Improvement Program that the town says has given lenders confidence and served as a model for other New England municipalities.

(TNS) — Kittery, Maine's town manager, Kendral Amaral, told the Town Council Monday night that town's Capital Improvement Program has garnered the admiration of other New England communities, several of which are adopting their processes and forms.

The CIP process implemented by the town over the last several years works, Amaral said, noting regular investment in capital assets helps the municipality prove to bonding agencies that it's taking prudent financial steps to maintain what taxpayers have invested in.

Under Amaral's leadership, the town now has detailed asset management plans for municipal facilities and marine infrastructure, while similar plans are in the works for the Kittery Community Center, police and technology.

On Monday, Amaral presented the 2020-2024 CIP, and outlined many of its driving factors. Proposed for fiscal year 2020 is $1,988,517 in capital projects, with offsetting funds of an estimated $75,000. The Capital Improvement Program Committee, comprised of town officials and citizen representatives, has been crucial in the planning process, Amaral said.

Two major projects driving increases are the town-wide LED streetlight conversion process, and the Rice Public Library renovation design. The town has $240,000 budgeted for the LED lights, a project with an estimated return on investment of 2.6 years. Amaral called it "well worth it" and a "really fast" ROI. After that, there is an estimated annual savings of $90,000 to $92,000 for taxpayers.

Over the summer, a request for proposals, developed by Fire Chief David O'Brien, was issued to convert all of the town's streetlights, approximately 641 of them, to LED lights. It's the most concrete energy project the town has looked at, with help from its Energy Advisory Committee. There's also been talk about involving Traip Academy sustainability students in the process.

Factored in for the library renovation and design is $400,00, combined with $100,000 already funded in FY19 to cover design services. Amaral noted the bond question for the library will likely appear on the November ballot, where voters will determine whether or not they want to move forward with it.

Currently in the town's holding accounts is $500,000 for Public Works' "right of way" project, which includes paving, sidewalk and drainage maintenance. Amaral noted a $1 million project to repave Route 1 is in the pipeline to take place within the next four or so years.

Phase two of the Emery Field improvement project ($300,000) has been pushed out, where the Admiralty Village public space upgrade is to include two youth soccer fields and a regulation-size lacrosse field with pathways. Originally, the grant schedule for the Land and Water Conservation Fund had Kittery receiving money this fall towards the project, but because of the recent partial federal government shutdown, that timeline was impacted.

©2019 Portsmouth Herald, N.H. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.