NELPAG Circular No. 12 1995 April 27 New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG) Editor: Daniel W. E. Green [Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; 60 Garden Street; Cambridge, MA 02138] (telephone 617-495-7440) e-mail: green@cfa (.bitnet, .span, or .harvard.edu) Secretary: Eric Johansson (telephone 508-667-0137) email: email@example.com "Subscription" to this irregular news/information Circular is available by sending self-addressed, stamped (32 cents in the U.S.A.) regular-sized (9.5x4-inch) envelopes (SASE) to Dan Green at his postal address, or by sending your e-mail address to NELPAG-REQUEST@YEEHAH.MERK.COM (Internet). Contributed information for this Circular concerning outdoor lighting problems in New England (or pertinent info from outside New England) are always welcome. Please circulate this newsletter to all interested parties. Look at our World Wide Web site at URL http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/nelpag/nelpag.html *********** NELPAG REGIONAL MEETING HELD ON APRIL 8 Nine individuals from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts met at Harvard College Observatory on Saturday, April 8. Robert Stefanik of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics spoke about his efforts regarding the establishment of good outdoor-lighting regulations for the transfer of Fort Devons (in northeast-central Massachusetts) from a federal military base to a state-owned property that will include a federal prison and will encourage economic (commercial) growth. Edwin Aguirre of Sky and Telescope magazine spoke about that magazine's plans to publish the NELPAG's "Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting" brochure as an insert in the magazine (with extra copies printed for separate distribution) later this year. Bob Wylie of Danvers, MA, spoke about his attending the Roadway Lighting meeting in Portland, Oregon, last month --- a brief report of which is included below. And Dan Green noted that voluntary monetary contributions to help with NELPAG's distribution of photocopied educational materials on outdoor lighting can be sent to him at the above address (checks payable to "International Comet Quarterly", please). The new bill number for the proposed Massachusetts state outdoor-lighting bill is H. 2553. -- D.G. OUTDOOR-LIGHTING PROJECT IN LEXINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS The Town of Lexington formulated a Lighting Options Committee a few years ago to deal with the issue of replacing old incandescent and mercury-vapor lighting with more modern fixtures. Initially, the local utility company that handles street lighting (Boston Edison) wanted to replace the old lighting with high-pressure sodium in drop-down lens fixtures that would have greatly increased the intensity of lighting and glare in this suburb of some 30,000 inhabitants just 15 miles northwest of Boston. Some local residents objected, had Boston Edison stop their plan, and developed the Lighting Options Committee to advise the town on what to do. The members of the Committee have become quite knowledgeable on outdoor lighting, and hired an architectural lighting consultant (Chris Ripman) from the nearby town of Belmont. Ripman has worked as the "middle man" between the town and Boston Edison, and a project was devised in which 50 lamps of differing manufacturers, differing intensities, differing lenses and casings, and differing emission types are to be deployed around the town for evaluation. At this writing, most of the test lighting has been deployed. At a meeting of the Lighting Options Committee on April 25, which I attended, Ripman handed Committee members a preliminary version of a questionairre in which the 50 project lamps are listed by location, lamp type, and luminaire description. There are both dropdish and cutoff cobras, as well as "admirals hat" fixtures, with the cutoff cobra fixtures predominating; Ripman explained that the dropdish lamps were put in for evaluation and comparison only, and that full-cutoff lamps will likely be what is accepted in the end. I will keep NELPAG members informed of the outcome of this project, which has already been in the planning stages for some 3-4 years and which will likely continue the better part of the coming year. Committee members and I have also made some good inside contacts at Boston Edison (a very difficult feat, it turns out!), and we hope to further develop a meaningful, constructive dialogue with Boston Edison, which supplies electricity and lighting to a very large part of the Boston metropolitan area. Boston Edison, I am told by committee members, was at first very reluctant regarding Lexington's plans, but through persistence of committee members over years, the company has made a large reversal and is apparently working to actually please the town by incorporating what the town wishes. Miracles can happen! --- Dan Green NEWS FROM NORTHEASTERN MASSACHUSETTS John Petrowicz (36 Kittery Ave., Rowley, MA 01969) has recently been involved in requesting that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), which operates the mass transit system in the Boston area, put in full-cutoff lighting fixtures in two newly-proposed Rowley and Newburyport commuter-train stations to the northeast of Boston. The MBTA has been very receptive to Petrowicz, who explained that he is an amateur astronomer with an observatory, and that he offers free observing sessions to school children and adults in the local area. On April 14, the Interim General Manager of the MBTA, Robert L. Mabardy, wrote to Petrowicz: "Please be advised that our design engineers have specified that 'cut off luminaires' with high pressure sodium lamps be installed in both stations. It is hoped that these shielded fixtures will not compromise your astronomy educational training program. . . . Again, thank you for . . . sharing your concerns with the MBTA." NEWS FROM WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS Clark Johnson of Heath, MA, is a journalist who has been keeping tabs on an interesting situation concerning two northwestern-Massachusetts towns that decided to turn off street lighting about four years ago to save money in the local town budgets, thereby keeping money alive for use in schools, fire departments, and police departments. Each year since then, the town residents of Bernardston (where all but a dozen or so critical intersection lights were turned off) and Northfield (where two-thirds of the street lights were turned off, from more than 300 to about 120 lights now) have questioned the selectmen on the town boards about the wiseness of this policy, but each time the police chiefs of the towns have stated that there is no observed increase in crime or accidents resulting from this lighting policy. -- D.G. TEXAS LEGISLATION And speaking of miracles, it would be monumental if the state of Texas would adopt a decent outdoor-lighting law. Such a bill has been introduced recently into the legislature, and NELPAG's e-mail "exploder/distributor/mailer" has been carrying news of this story. For those who only see the printed NELPAG Circular, the following information was relayed by David S. Smith in San Antonio, Texas (firstname.lastname@example.org): "Committee hearings were held Monday, April 24, on the light-pollution abatement bill introduced by State Representative Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio. The bill (HB. No. 763) involves amending Subtitle A, Title 7 of the Local Government Code via 'Chapter 219. Regulation of Outdoor Lighting'. Speaking on behalf of the bill was Robert Gent of the San Antonio Astronomical Society. Speaking against the bill were representatives of the outdoor advertisers and private security people. The University of Texas supports the bill, but it was extremely disappointing that none of the University of Texas Astronomy personnel chose to appear (it seems that many were not aware of it on April 24, but they are now!). Nor were there any other representatives from any of the other universities or astronomy clubs throughout the state. One would certainly think in a State that is home to the McDonald Observatory and one of the largest star parties in the United States more people would be actively involved in trying to take back the night. It may be that the hearings simply were not given adequate notice. The bottom line is that if there is to be any hope of passage of this bill, prompt action must be taken by all interested parties. I strongly urge all who are interested in the passage of this bill to IMMEDIATELY contact the committee chairman, Representative Fred Hill. His telephone number is 512-463-0486. His address is P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768. We must have an immediate response from all supporters if this bill is to stand a chance of even getting out of committee!" IESNA ROADWAY LIGHTING COMMITTEE MEETING Bob Wylie, an illumination consultant and active NELPAG participant, kindly submitted the following account of a recent meeting: The subcommittee of the Obtrusive Light Committee of the Roadway Lighting Committee of IESNA met in Portland, OR, on March 23. The subcommittee is in the process of writing a technical paper relative to light pollution and light trespass. This paper will specifically relate to roadway lighting. Its content will be limited to how "good" roadway-lighting projects focus on providing designs that use materials and procedures to limit and contain glare. The paper will also contain a glossary of definitions and statements to help designers do quality, glare-free designs and provide to public and private enforcement the means to measure compliance to public light-trespass ordinances. It will also provide suggested language for writing ordinances that call for limiting the amount of light from street lights cast onto private properties. The subcommittee strongly encouraged the use of liminaires that distribute no light above 90 degrees from nadir. They recognize that there will be opposition from certain street-lighting luminaire manufacturers (particularly those who promote the "old-fashioned" look for "historic places". However, there are designs that simulate the "old-fashioned" look while lighting roadways and adjacent properties adequately and within the desires of the astronomer, the property owner, and the motorist. --- R. R. Wylie, 49 Purchase St., Danvers, MA 01923-3637 *********** The NELPAG supports the International Dark-Sky Association and recommends that all individuals/groups who are interested in the problems of light pollution and obtrusive lighting should subscribe to the IDA Newsletter (IDA membership costs $20.00 per year; send check to International Dark-Sky Association, 3545 N. Stewart, Tucson, AZ 85716).