Brightening up Broadway could create bustling Fellsmere Downtown

FELLSMERE — Fellsmere City Leaders took a recent evening to walk Broadway Street at dusk, getting a sense of the downtown artery by night.

“This whole corridor is scary,” Mayor Susan Adams said, when the sun goes down. Low hanging limbs on the old oak trees lining the street dampen the light from the street lamps, casting shadows on the sidewalks below.

Lights from within the businesses that dot the road do little more to shed light for pedestrians.

It’s an issue the Fellsmere City Council is considering tackling. A game plan could include working with the business and property owners on both sides of Broadway, establishing a special taxing area, or offering grant matching funds to provide pedestrian level lighting.

Adams said that she’d like to see more foot-traffic along Broadway in the evening, helping to create not only the feel of a bustling downtown, but also provide incentive for new businesses to locate there.

“We won’t get that without lighting,” the mayor said.

Some challenges the council faces include securing easements from the property owners, balancing the oak canopy with lighting, and determining how the lights should be powered – electric or solar.

“That would be just sweet,” City Manager Jason Nunemaker said of being able to install solar powered lights.

He explained that by having solar, in the event the city ever needed to relocate the lights, the posts could be easily moved without dealing with electrical lines.

“There are a lot of grants for those projects,” he also said, which could help defray the cost of the solar lights, which are an estimated two to three times more expensive than traditional lights.

Depending on the route the council chooses to pursue, city leaders could establish a special taxing district to fund the pedestrian lighting. Another option would be to require businesses along Broadway to provide the city with an easement for exchange of grant funding for façade and landscaping improvements.

Council members also discussed the trees that line Broadway, debating if the oaks should be replaced with palms in keeping with Historic Fellsmere photos.

“Personally, I like the oaks,” Councilwoman Sara Savage said, adding that she’d prefer to see them trimmed up to make more room for the lights and pedestrians.

Adams pointed out that many photographs of Old Fellsmere showed Broadway with palm trees, not oaks. By switching to palms, solar-powered lights might be more feasible.

Before any decisions will be made, the Fellsmere City Council plans to hold workshops and meetings to formalize a plan for Broadway. Those meetings have not yet been scheduled.

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