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This article was originally published in in the 2016 Election Corner back in May 2016. Considering that this issue continues to have significant impact on our neighbors, it is being republished as part of the main SPBuzz.org site, as not to be relegated to the dusty corners of Seward Park history.

Courtyard of Lights

The Courtyard between Buildings #1-2 is certainly well illuminated at night, with over fifty lamps lined up, many of them less than twenty feet apart. The lamps were installed with the aim of safety, but are deemed to be problematic to neighbors whose windows face the courtyard, for whom nighttime darkness is largely offset by the floodlights.

Panoramic view of Building #1-2 Courtyard at night.

Mapping of lamps in Building #1-2 Courtyard.

Nighttime view from low floor facing Building #1-2 Courtyard, with curtains closed, and nighttime illumination within that apartment from courtyard lighting.

It is important to note that management has strived to address this — our General Manager, Frank Durant, responded to an SPBuzz inquiry, saying that:

We just converted the backyard bulbs from 240 watt incandescent bulbs to 60 watt LEDs for 99 fixtures. This is a tremendous savings without having to have blind spots of no light.

With this change we are saving far more than we would with doing the major electrical overhaul it would take to do what was suggested. The payback for the work we did is less than a year and Con Edison and Lockheed Martin helped pay for it.

Too many people use those areas throughout the night and I believe it is necessary to keep them on for safety purposes.

SPBuzz has reached out to a Shareholder who live alongside the courtyard to find out if they notice any significant improvement. Rather than declare whether or not there has been an incremental improvement, that Shareholder responded:

There is a defined phenomenon known as Lighting Pollution. It is defined as excessive, misdirected, to obtrusive artificial (usually outdoor) light. That pretty much sums up the courtyard between buildings 1 and 2. It is 10:54 PM and there are
still people in the playground...probably waiting for dark(!) so that they can put their kids to bed.

Aside from the quality-of-life issues of Shareholders in low apartments facing the courtyard, other issues surface, namely:

  • If this amount of lighting is called for in the name of safety, why doesn't the Building #3-4 Courtyard merit similar safety measures?
  • Why keep lamps on all night around the playground and where the fountain used to be?

Some possible strategies to reduce lighting would be:

  • Survey and solicit input from residents of first through fifth floors apartments that face the Courtyard.
  • User (even) lower wattage lamps in positions closest to buildings.
  • On lamp posts that have two lamps attached, use only one of the lamps.
  • Post a notice that the playground is only open from dawn to dusk... and turn off the lighting accordingly. (If deemed to be appropriate, motion detectors can be installed to illuminate the playground (and to notifiy security) in the event the playground is used at night.)
  • Post a notice that the path adjacent to the playground is only to be used from dawn to dusk... And turn off the lighting along that path accordingly.
  • In order to save energy, motion detectors can automatically illuminate lamps when needed.
  • Now that we've privatized access to our garage and parking lot, we no longer have Shareholders going through the parking lot... Perhaps parking lot lighting could be reduced accordingly?
  • Over time, replace lamp posts with ones that are more spaced-out, lower, and not as bright.