Two years after a committee of Westminster residents and government representatives came up with recommendations on revitalizing a troubled neighborhood, city officials are going ahead with bringing illumination to a main artery known for its drug activity.
The Westminster Common Council unanimously approved a $218,000 bid to install 17 decorative lights on Pennsylvania Avenue from West Main Street to Union Street and in alleys.
Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works, told the mayor and council at a meeting Monday night that the original estimate for the project was $374,000 and that receiving such a low bid was unusual. The city checked the references provided by the bidder, Pipes and Wires Services Inc., a Westminster contractor, and found them satisfactory.
Beyard said he expects the installation to begin late this month or early next month. The contractor will be responsible for putting the lights up, installing underground conduits for wires and restoring the pavement. The lights are expected to be on by the holiday season.
Two years ago, the lighting project was promoted as a major step toward turning around a neighborhood beset by drug-related crimes, code violations, prostitution and burglary.
In the summer of 2002, a group of Westminster residents and government officials discussed the rejuvenation of the historic neighborhood around Pennsylvania Avenue and West Main Street, focusing on code enforcement, crime prevention, landlord accountability, the local zoning code and homeownership initiatives.
After four months, a 40-member task force issued recommendations that included improving facades, holding landlords more accountable for code violations and increasing the emphasis on community policing. More than half have been adopted by the city.