Central lighting a bad idea

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By The Staff

Dear Editor,


The pedestrian lighting recently installed on Central Avenue is ridiculous.  What would inspire a town of smart people to make such a foolish decision?


On-line I found minutes from a county meeting from October 2007 in which the pedestrian lights were mentioned.  At the same meeting was a discussion of the town motto, “Where Discoveries are Made” and mention of the idea of “branding” Los Alamos.


I find it startling that The Atomic City does not recognize, much less celebrate, its brand. Los Alamos is known worldwide for one thing: the bomb. What else Los Alamos has discovered in the 60 years hence is probably a mystery to most, possibly because most of the work is “classified.”


In 2009 Los Alamos County celebrates its founding 60 years ago.  It is a mid-century modern town, a “boomer.”  All of its historic structures were built in the 20th century.  The most significant facade on the section of Central Avenue where the lights appear is the Post Office.  It is a lovely example of mid-century style.


So why install lights reminiscent of Paris in the 19th century?  It is as though the town went on a drunk and woke up wearing Rip Van Winkle’s clothing. “OMG. Where am I? How did I get here? I remember nothing.” The tragic reality is that the clothes cannot now be changed. The foolish behavior of the night before, like a bad tattoo, cannot be erased. 


You are stuck with the silly costume that screams for attention all the while you would like to disappear into the sidewalk. But no. You have been made a permanent fixture. Ouch. Sadly, there is really no way to now pull this mess together into a coherent whole. People who come to the town “where discoveries are made” will find a place that has no sense of itself, a confused and disorganized mess. And so it shall remain.


The minutes mention only one significant feature of the lights – hangers for flower baskets. Charming. Perhaps they have plumbing inside that will provide regular water to sustain the blooms. Most likely, the flowers will suffer from lack of attention then soon disappear. It would have been better to have invested in planters.


The maddening reality is that the lighting could have unified the street, presented a clear sense of place, and celebrated the original downtown while reinforcing the Atomic “brand.” Mid-century style is all the rage. It could have been cool.


While looking into this issue, I discovered that “gaslighting” (from a mid-century film) is synonymous with “psychic abuse,” torture and “Martha Mitchell syndrome.”


No wonder the lights make my head hurt. It’s torture.  They grate on my very last nerve.