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Let there be light.

As structures and plans continue to move towards completion at The Corridor, the clock is ticking on the city of Brookfield, developer Irgens and nearby residents to find a compromise or conclusion to the debate over new streetlights at the intersection of North Calhoun Road and Golf Parkway.

In January, the city stunned residents with the addition of nine new streetlights at the intersection.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the city of Brookfield board of public works took the most recent crack at the topic after having been assigned a legislative referral from aldermen Christopher Blackburn and Jerry Mellone regarding streetlighting guidelines and lighting at Golf and Calhoun.

Blackburn and Mellone made the referral after a proposed compromise introduced by the city's Public Works Department was met with rejection and more criticism from residents who called it "unacceptable." That proposal would see the lighting reduced from its original levels in January by approximately 40 percent. The six easternmost lights will have wattage reduced from 250 watts to 150.

City officials have said that increasing the illumination of the crossing is necessary to a certain minimum level due to the projected increase in traffic brought by Irgens' mixed-use development immediately to the west, but residents have decried the new lights as an intrusion on their privacy and way of life. Brookfield City Engineer Jeff Chase noted that the intersection is expected to see approximately 800 new vehicles go by at peak hours. The intersection currently sees approximately 1,300 during morning and evening rush hour.

 

On Tuesday, the five aldermen on the board of public works debated the next step with input from Mellone and city staff. The board decided to try the staff's proposed compromise in the weeks to come after turning the lights on to their original full levels for a week for the sake of comparison.

Officials noted that the proposal for a 40 percent reduction has been rejected without having been tried.

"(Staff) came up with an idea to solve this, possibly solve this. Has it been tried? Okay, but we already know it's wrong?" Alderman Buck Jurken said.

Blackburn said he hopes that a method can be found that will allow the intersection to remain safe but keep lighting levels from intruding upon neighboring residents as much.

Aldermen agreed that in the weeks to come, more audibles may be made in the intersection's design in toward achieving a compromise that all parties can find suitable.

"I think the only way that we are going to satisfy the kind of engineering approach that (staff) is taking and the picture in some peoples' heads of the ideal situation is to experiment a little bit," Alderman Scott Berg said.

Blackburn and residents in attendance brought up the point that the proposed lighting at Calhoun and Golf Parkway is more intense than at intersections of similar size, such as Calhoun and Wisconsin Avenue.

Brookfield Director of Public Works Tom Grisa responded by comparing the lighting situation to curbs and gutters in Brookfield.

"We have curb and gutter streets in the city of Brookfield, but not every street has curb and gutter. That's our standard, but we're not recommending that you go back and rebuild all of ditches to curb and gutter. You would tax us out of the world," Grisa said. "That's our standard. Is our standard wrong? No, it's just our standard based on what we want it to look like. Standards evolve and change over time."

The board directed staff to return the lights to their original levels once they obtain the necessary equipment to make a quick transition to the 40 percent reduction.

The topic will next be discussed at the board of public works' meeting April 12, at which time a permanent decision may be made.

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