Where are the new lights going?

SAN BENITO — City officials have enthusiastically decided where they would like their new decorative lighting to go.

The new, fancy light poles will be placed along Sam Houston in various locations.

The project that has been on the books for years is intended to add a little life to downtown.

Over the last couple of weeks, Assistant City Manager Art Rodriguez has been hurriedly walking up and down downtown to pinpoint the exact location of the new lights.

The city plans to add the 68 lights in three stages.

Stage one will consist of 23 lights spaced out between Adele and Batts.

Rodriguez assures everyone the lights will be spaced out to look even.

Stage two will consist of 28 lights spaced out between the railroad tracks and Brooks.

Stage three consists of light around what is to be the new museum on Heywood.

Four lights will be placed from Heywood to Reagan and 12 lights will be placed around the block of Heywood, Reagan and Stenger.

The city has allocated a little more than $400,000 for this lighting project. However, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said it could cost more than that.

When American Electric Power first proposed the project, they proposed the 68 lights, costing about $300,000.

However, because of recent re-evaluations, the city will have to shell out more money to prepare the sidewalks for the lights.

“Our public works crews still have to cut through sidewalks and streets, trench it, dig it out and rebuild sidewalks at our cost,” he said. “It could possibly exceed $400,000.”

The city won’t know how much the exact cost will be until AEP comes back to them with figures, which could be in about four to six weeks.

“As soon as we get the figures from AEP, we can have a comparison of how much they are going to charge us, how much material we need and how much labor will have to take place from our own staff,” Rodriguez said.

Mayor Celeste Sanchez suggested only working on stages one and three, which commissioners agreed are the two most important parts of the project.

“We want the area of the museum done first in case we run out of money,” she said.

If the funds are available, stage two could be done at a later date.

As for the construction start, De La Rosa said they would not start until after the holidays.

To her dismay, Sanchez was upset about possibly not being able to decorate the poles for Christmas.

“It’s a timing issue with design,” De La Rosa said.

“We’ve waited ten years,” Sanchez said. “What’s another few months?”

According to recent developments, there could be one snag in this project.

Tuesday, city commissioner met in a regular meeting to approve the project and all that was discussed during Monday evening workshop.

However, after meeting in executive session, they held off on making any concrete decisions because of funding issues.

City leaders voted to consult with the city attorney and tabled any action involving this project.