Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Public Works

Tie a Yellow (Pink) Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree (Light Pole)!

The tale of Tredyffrin’s burned out streetlights continues. Based on comments from several people on Community Matters, I started my mini-research project of non-working street lights in the township. As one person explained, the street light poles are marked with pink ribbons if they need new light bulbs. Sure enough, I see a number of street light poles on Chesterbrook Boulevard tied with bright pink ribbons. On Mill Road, at the entrance of the township building, there are three light poles right in a row with apparent burned-out light bulbs as they each have pink ribbons. Question . . . What is the time line for replacement light bulbs on those light poles adorned with ribbons? Don’t know. I also don’t know how long the ribbons have been on these poles.

Based on some of the comments on Community Matters, I assumed that the Public Works staff was the ones replacing the burned-out light bulbs. However, according to the township website, street light maintenance and repair is not handled in-house but is a contracted service. My guess is that the township staff marks the street poles with pink ribbons and then the outside company does the necessary light bulb changing. Again, not clear how long it takes to get a new light bulb after it is reported and the staff adds the pink ribbon. Residents can fill out an online township form (click here) with location details for light poles requiring new light bulbs or other maintenance issues.

Researching on the township website, I discovered that Tredyffrin owns and operates 1,824 lights. Who knew? The use of the word ‘owns’ may be accurate; but I think we need to address the ‘operating’ part. It is my understanding that PECO actually owns the light poles and the township pays a flat fee for the poles – and it appears that we pay by the pole, regardless if there is a working light bulb or not. There had been some discussion and I hope movement towards changing the regular light bulbs to LED bulbs. LED light bulbs have a higher front end cost than regular light bulbs but they last longer and are much more energy-efficient.

On November 15, 2007, Mimi Gleason presented the 2008 budget. Contained in the budget was the following information on streetlights:

A new initiative is proposed to begin upgrading streetlights to a more energy efficient medium. Most of the Township’s 1,900 streetlights are mercury vapor lights. The most energy efficient, long lasting street light available is a new LED light. Because the technology is new for streetlights, they are still very expensive. Estimates range from $1,000-$1,500 per light or roughly $2.5 – $3 million in total. In time, the cost should come down significantly. The proposed budget includes $50,000 this year to upgrade about 40 lights as a demonstration area to help promote further use of LED lights. With the Board’s approval, during 2008 staff will pursue a state grant to install a larger number of LED streetlights in 2009. From there, we would embark on a very long-term plan to eventually upgrade all of the lights.

Continuing my search for answers on the street light situation, I came across the August 12, 2008 Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority Minutes with the following information included:

Mr. Norcini [former Public Works director] continued his discussion on the electric rate for streetlights. He said we purchased streetlights from PECO several years ago for cost effectiveness. Our rate is based on street light rates. We plan to install LED lights as a test this year.

Two meters will be installed – one to the existing streetlights and one to the LED lights. The meters should show how much electricity the LED light uses and how much our existing lights compare to what PECO says it uses. If the LED test project works and provides savings to us, we can determine a capital plan to replace the existing lights. We will be metering on Cassatt Road, and testing 14-15 new LED lights on North Valley Road from Central to Swedesford.

Fast forward to 2011 and next month the supervisors will be reviewing the proposed 2012 township budget. I for one will be looking at the line listing in the budget for street lighting and will be very curious to see its ‘expense’. In my research, I could not find the name of the company that holds the contract with the township on street lighting.

It is somewhat interesting to see where the township ‘was’ and where it is ‘now’ on the subject of light bulbs. I wonder what happened to the upgrading of the streetlights to LED plan in the township.

Gosh, at this point, I just want to see all the burned-out light bulbs prioritized (and replaced)! Seems to me that this discussion could also fall under the category of resident ‘safety’.

Looking for a Job? Local Government has Openings

Our local government has a couple of immediate employment opportunities – for a Director of Public Works and a Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer.

Steve Norcini’s last day on the job as Tredyffrin’s Director of Public Works Department was this past Friday. It is my understanding that Steve left Tredyffrin for a new job as the director of Public Works in Radnor Township. Under Steve’s leadership in Tredyffrin, the Public Works Department successfully battled the last couple of winters for the residents – this was no easy task and the residents were very grateful for the long hours and time to keep the roads cleared for the residents. Snow removal was just one responsibility on the long job description list as head of Tredyffrin’s Public Works Department.

Tredyffrin’s loss of Steve Norcini is Radnor’s gain . . . he will be missed! Congratulations and best wishes Steve!

Here is a partial description of the Director of Public Works position. If you are interested in the position, email a cover letter and resume to the attention of Mimi Gleason, Township Manager, .


The Director of Public Works must be well-organized with strong leadership and motivational skills. Capital projects must be demonstrably well-designed and cost effective. Effective communication with the public and staff is a must. The next Director must have the ability to develop a strong relationship with employees to maintain trust and morale while addressing the challenges facing local units of government today. Other necessary skills include effective budgeting, smart use of technology and time management. New initiatives will include developing performance measures and using web-based technology for work orders.

Minimum qualifications: Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering or related field and ten years experience, at least five years in a supervisory capacity in Public Works or a closely related field. Excellent benefits, salary based on qualifications.

Click here for job description.

The second job opportunity currently available in our local government is for a Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer. Emmy Baldassarree, an employee of the township for 18 years, currently holds this position but will be retiring in a few short weeks. As Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer, Emmy is actively involved in much of the township zoning and application process in the township. As a member of HARB for a number of years, I have had the pleasure of working with Emmy . . . she will not be easy to replace and will be missed by many in the community. Here’s to a happy retirement Emmy, you earned it!

If you are interested or know someone who may be interested, below is the job description for the Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer position.


Professional position involving administration of the zoning permit review process, making determinations of compliance with the zoning ordinance and property maintenance ordinance, managing the application process for and providing professional advice and assistance to the Zoning Hearing Board, maintaining the zoning map, conducting on site inspections, researching zoning ordinance and subdivision and land development ordinance inquiries, preparing regular reports to the Board of Supervisors, attending professional association meeting and conferences to remain current on planning and community development trends.

Minimum qualifications: College degree with one year of related experience. Necessary skills include ability to communicate clearly and concisely orally and in writing, general proficiency with common computer programs and software including Microsoft Office and Arc View, and manage multiple tasks efficiently and simultaneously.

Full time position with excellent benefits and competitive salary. Send resume and references to: EOE.

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