Uptown neighborhood sees completion of multi-year project to restore historic lights, celebrates with christening ceremony
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Talmadge residents christened 201 historic, candlestick streetlights in a celebration that marked the end of a 10-year project, which was spearheaded both by community members and the Talmadge Maintenance Assessment District. The Aug. 18 celebration was held at the intersection of 49th and Lucille streets from 6 – 8:30 p.m.
“The Talmadge Maintenance Assessment District (TMAD) is very excited about the completion of a long-term lighting project for our community,” said TMAD board member Debbie Sanders in a press release. “Since its inception, one of the primary goals of TMAD has been to provide decorative candlestick lighting throughout the community.”
TMAD not only funded one-third of the project – approximately $1.2 million – but also did the initial research, which included identifying and locating the company that made the original streetlights in the 1920s. Discovering the pole and lighting-fixture designs were still available, TMAD then found a light fixture that would maintain the historic character while integrating more contemporary, energy-saving lighting methods.
The lights and fixtures were installed along the eastern and northern sections of Talmadge, matching the existing decorative lighting in the western section of the neighborhood.
Community member George Diefenthal, who was heavily involved in seeing the project reach completion, marked the end of their hard work by breaking a bottle of champagne on the base of one of the lights at the Aug. 18 event.
Sanders called the 10-year process a collaboration, saying many organizations – from TMAD to San Diego Gas & Electric – contributed to its completion.
“This project, while initiated by the community, has been the result of a combined effort of community members, the City of San Diego Underground Program and various City departments,” she said. “The project is a prime example of how communities can work with local government to indentify and execute significant public improvement efforts that enhance the community and reinforce its identity.”
Before working with the City’s Underground Program, Sanders and the rest of the TMAD board said they anticipated paying for over three miles of trenching in the neighborhood, which their budget would only allow them to install approximately 10 to 15 lights a year. At this rate, the organization said, the project would have taken over 20 years to complete.
“With concrete plans in hand, TMAD was able to approach the City and take advantage of the Utilities Undergrounding Program,” the board said in a separate press release. “By synchronizing with this program, TMAD was able to complete the task in one large project.” Partnering with the city helped to include refurbishing over 150 existing candlestick lights as well.
Scheduled to attend the christening were County Supervisor Ron Roberts, District Three Councilmember Todd Gloria and District Seven Councilmember Marti Emerald. Currently resting in District Three, Talmadge will be redistricted to the newly formed District Nine, which Emerald was elected to represent. City redistricting takes affect in December, upon inauguration.
“The new lights not only improve public safety but [also] reflect the historic character of Talmadge,” Gloria said. “I love the investment in infrastructure reflected in the lights, and I am extremely proud of the Talmadge neighbors who made this project a reality.”