Helper as heart of darkness? Could be good idea

Originally posted on the Sun Advocate

By: John Serfustini, Sun Advocate Editor

 

If anyone should ask you how many public light fixtures there are in Helper, you can answer that there are 487 of them.

Then you can add that 375 of them are on all night.

But wait, there’s more. There are also data on how high each street lamp and security light stands, whether the light is fully shielded, partially so, or unshaded.

There’s also info available on candle power and where each light stands on the visible light color spectrum.

This information makes Helper the first city in the nation to have such a thorough inventory, according to Nick Kiahtipes, who reported the findings of a study to the city council last week.

Night stalkers

Kiahtipes, an Urban Ecology student at the U of Utah, was a member of a survey team made up of Bettymaya Foott,a representative from the Consortium for Dark Skies/Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative, and City and Metropolitan Planning Master students Nathan Jellen and Adam Dalton. In early May, they walked the the streets at night, pointing instruments at the lights and taking notes.

Kiahtipes is also a member of the Helper Revitalization Committee, which wants to incorporate dark sky-compliant lighting into the city’s ongoing infrastructure projects.

While city lights are necessary for safety, security and navigation, poor design causes light pollution that obscures the view of the stars, wastes energy and creates glare that could rob people of sleep and privacy.

Better design, which directs just the right amount and color of light down where it’s needed, can enhance the quality of urban life and lead to a national and international reputation for the city, Kiahtipes said.

The survey did not include home or Union Pacific rail yard lights.