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St. Croix Downtowns Could Soon Be Basking in a Warm Glow

Sept. 2, 2005 — For three years the St. Croix Historic Preservation Office has been exploring options for lighting St. Croix's downtowns and enhancing their beauty. Myron Jackson, director of the Preservation Office, and Roger Dewey, executive director of the St. Croix Foundation, said Thursday during a press conference that lights designed around the concept of diffusion — that is, using reflected light — would enhance feelings of security in Christiansted and Frederiksted.
However, when Jackson was first shown the new light designs by St. Croix resident Ray Grenald, he said, "This is not what we have in mind."
Most towns, when they want to emphasize their historical significance, do a replica, of perhaps say, a gas lamp on a lamp post with curlicues. The Grenald lights look more like something made in a high school metal shop, circa 1958.
But after Jackson heard how the lights worked and what they did, he became sold on them.
First of all, the lights are not designed to go on poles but instead have been specifically designed to be placed on the ceilings of the arcade walkways that line most of Frederiksted and Christiansted's downtown streets. The fixture is designed in such a way as to send light up to be reflected down. Its effect, according to Jackson, is to diffuse light in a way pleasant to the eye and also in a way that makes the fixture almost invisible. Another key positive, according to Dewey, is that the lights will only cost 2 to 3 cents a night to burn. This might be a consideration to many building owners. Dewey and Jackson made an evening tour of Christiansted recently and found that many buildings did not have their outside lights on.
Grenald has worked on lighting projects in Washington, D.C., including one at the White House and another at the Supreme Court.
Ten of the light fixtures are already made, and the plan is for them to be manufactured on St. Croix. Dewey said the exact cost of manufacturing each fixture and having it installed had not been determined. He indicated the foundation did have some money set aside for the project, but was not sure if it was enough.
Dewey said the foundation is presently surveying property owners in both towns to see who would be interested in the lights. Initially, however, the fixtures will be introduce on King and Company streets in Christiansted and King and Strand streets in Frederiksted.
Jackson said when the lights are installed, "People's instinctual feelings about downtown will change. They will want to be downtown in the evening. They will feel safe."
For more information call the St. Croix Foundation at 773-9898.
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