Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
City officials are looking at a way to light up downtown.
A more vibrant downtown is on the horizon for Oberlin.
Thirty signatures were collected Tuesday for a petition to hang cafe lights downtown on West College, East College, and South Main streets.
Oberlin Business Partnership director Janet Haar said she and downtown business owners have been trying to work with city officials to have lights strewn throughout the area for more than a year.
“We just wanted to do this to help city council understand that it’s not one business that wants it, it’s what all of them want,” she said about the petition.
City officials met with Haar and downtown design committee president Matt Adelman to discuss the possibility of installing lights.
Haar said it was a good meeting and they discussed where the lights could be hung, fire precautions, and alternative options to light the buildings.
Oberlin fire chief Bob Hanmer said he is concerned about hanging lights from the decorative stars on the front of the buildings because the stars hold the structure together and it would be hard to get a fire ladder to the second floor of a building if lights were hung in front of them.
“A lot of (the buildings) don’t have fire protection like sprinklers or alarm systems,” said planning director Carrie Handy.
She said the group evaluated hanging lights from poles downtown but the poles would not be able to hold a string of lights in addition to banners and flower baskets currently hanging from them.
“We’re going to see if there’s another type of lighting out there to light the buildings like laser or LED lighting,” Handy said.
Hanmer believes using LED or laser lights downtown would look more appealing for the businesses because people would not see the strings of lights hanging during the day.
Haar said city officials do not want the lights to affect Oberlin’s historic appearance.
City manager Eric Norenberg and Handy are expected to talk with a few lighting professionals about the best way to light downtown and have a consultant attend the next meeting in August to discuss other ideas.
The time and date of the meeting were not set at the time of publication.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.