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Davis Journal

Solar lights for Community Park?

Nov 02, 2023 10:53AM ● By Linda Petersen

CENTERVILLE—The installation of solar lights in Centerville’s Community Park at 1350 North 400 West has been put on hold as city staff find out if the manufacturer can guarantee a significant wind load. Parks and Recreation Director Bruce Cox presented a contract with a manufacturer and installation company to the city council on Oct. 17 for their ratification, but things stalled when Cox informed them that the panels will be able to withstand at a minimum 90 miles per hour wind load. With the winds that tear through Centerville from time to time, that just wasn’t enough of a guarantee for them, council members told Cox.

“We get 100 mph winds; it’s not a question of if we do, it’s when we do,” Councilmember Spencer Summerhays said.

The solar lights are panels that are mounted on 20-foot poles and city councilmembers expressed concern that in a windstorm they could break loose and be a hazard.

“Even if you go on the 10-year ticker for Centerville you’re guaranteed within 10 years to get at least one of those storms,” Councilmember George McEwan said. “I’ve been in many of these storms where I’m watching kids run around because they think it’s great, and I just don’t want to get one killed by a solar panel that gets loose.” 

“If we’re going to put these in, we’re going to have to do extra engineering to make sure they’re secure,” he added.

The council discussed various options to secure the panels before deciding to have Cox go back to Fonroche Lighting America, the manufacturer, and find out if panels with greater wind loads, closer to 110 mph, are available.

“You need to put a call into [the manufacturer] and say, ‘Hey, 90 mph doesn’t cut it for Centerville,’” Summerhays said. “You’ve got to have a design spec that meets at least 100, maybe 110, because frankly our gust in 2009 got up to 110 as I recall … Sorry to make you do this but knowing what we know about Centerville I think it would be foolhardy to think 90 mph is going to be our highest windstorm in the next five or 10 years.”

Cox said he would call the manufacturer the following day and expressed optimism that they could find a solution and that the lights could be installed in the park in November as planned. 

“November is a great time for us to do construction at Community Park because there’s not soccer, baseball games, football games, all those things going on,” he said.

Once they find the correct panels, the contractor will install 13 single head solar lights with 20-foot poles and concrete bases, along with 35 single head direct bury lights with 14-foot poles. Once installed the new lights will provide illumination for the east and west parking lots, the park’s center corridor and provide lower-level lighting around the walking path and on the volleyball court, Cox said.

The bid that was presented by Cox that evening came in at $203,100 for the lights and $53,000 for installation by GSL Electric. This is significantly over the city’s budgeted amount of $225,000 and is likely to increase if the higher wind load panels cost more. It is unclear how city officials plan to make up the shortfall.