TCAG helps Exeter relight downtown

Many of the decorative street lights located in downtown Exeter, which are original to the city, no longer work and are in need of replacement.(Danielle Gutierrez)

City of Exeter secures grant from Tulare County Association of Governments to replace the decorative street lights in downtown

EXETER – Downtown Exeter has a bright future ahead of it now that the city has reached its longtime goal of securing funds to replace the downtown streetlights.

At the Exeter City Council meeting on Feb. 27, Councilmember Vicki Riddle announced the city of Exeter just secured $600,000 to replace its decorative downtown streetlights. The grant funding was provided by Tulare County Association of Governments’ (TCAG) Measure R funds to brighten the streets and create a safer downtown environment.

The city has been searching for funding to upgrade the lights for years, but Riddle managed to lock down the funds by stressing the safety concern in her proposal to TCAG.

“This poses a major safety concern for pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, transit users and other people who live in the vicinity of Exeter,” Riddle said.

The total cost of the project will be $750,000. The city had already carved out the first $150,000 from their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Many of the lights are damaged and no longer work. City Manager Adam Ennis explained that the public works department does their best to keep the lights working but they have needed replacement for a while.

“A couple of them have been hit by cars or gone out and been broken, and now we can’t get the replacement parts,” Ennis said.

The reason that the city has been unable to replace the downtown streetlights up until now is that the model of the light posts that are original to the city are no longer being manufactured. This means many of the parts that are necessary to fix broken lights are not available for purchase.

Now, in order to fix the downtown lights, the city has to pick a completely different style and replace all of the lights.

“We’ll probably end up having to replace the whole thing above ground; so the light pole, the light itself and the bulbs,” Ennis said.

According to a past report from The Sun-Gazette, Public Works Director Daymon Qualls wanted to pick a style of light that is made by more than one manufacturer to ensure they can buy replacement parts.

This also isn’t the first time the city has tried to replace the streetlights downtown. The city previously tried to replace the lights by applying for the Clean California Grant in 2023, which they were denied.

The grant was for roughly $3 million dollars of funding, and the city hoped to use it to restore the old Jailhouse that is located behind the fire station, renovate the city’s public restrooms, paint new murals and install decorative LED streetlights.

Now that the city has funding for the streetlights they can cross one more item off their list when it comes to revitalizing the city. While it is still unclear how much time it will take to replace the lights, Ennis did state that the city will be talking with engineers very soon.

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