Everett port’s new security lighting raises neighbors’ concerns over glare

EVERETT — The Port of Everett plans to put up $1.3 million in lights this spring, just below a neighborhood along Rucker Hill.

The floodlights are intended to enhance security, a Department of Homeland Security priority at ports around the country — particularly those such as Everett that serve overseas ships.

“The terminal is like any other area you want to keep secure,” said Edward Madura, port security director. “If it’s dark, you don’t know what’s out there.”

Five lights will be mounted on 80-foot poles in the port’s South Terminal, where cargo is loaded and off-loaded.

In the North Terminal — the area roughly north of the dome on the waterfront — two aging light poles will be replaced and two more added. All of those but one will also be 80 feet tall.

Melinda and Howie Bargreen’s home sits on the hillside just above the port’s South Terminal.

In written comments, the Bargreens asked the port to take steps to shield as much light as possible.

“I know that many factors go into the decision of where and how to place the lights,” Melinda Bargreen wrote. “But we already hear a great deal of noise and see a lot of light from the port, and are hoping things won’t get worse.”

The port took those comments and others into account and have added shields that should help block light for neighbors up the hill, said Port of Everett chief engineer John Klekotka.

Still, the lights are expected to have some effect, although he said it would be minimal.

In some ways, the lights may be an improvement.

Crews often work late into the night off-loading cargo, so ships can get back under way.

Right now, port workers use a combination of lighting attached to buildings and portable lighting run by generators at night. Those generators can be noisy.

The new lights should reduce nighttime noise and are easily adjustable, so port staff can tweak where they’re aiming, Klekotka said.

He also said the lights would be placed on a lower setting when work was not taking place at the terminals.

It’s not clear to neighbors from drawings how much an impact the lights may have, Bargreen said.

“We also were assured that precautions would be taken so that the lights would not shine into Everett residences or provide unwelcome overall illumination in the neighborhood, but it is hard to predict the accuracy of those reassurances,” she said.

The entire cost will be picked up by a federal grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Port Security grant program.

The contractor selected to do the work is High Mountain Electric Inc. of Kirkland.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com

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