The past few years have seen downtown Eugene grow livelier, and it’s about to get brighter, too. A plan is under way to light the streets to make them prettier during the dark winter months. It is expected to be in full effect for the upcoming holiday season. Behind this plan is Downtown Eugene, Inc., a private nonprofit association of business and property owners in the area.
LED lighting tubes manufactured by Eugene-based Light Beam Industries will eventually hang down from all 44 light poles in the downtown area as a replacement for lights that weren’t nearly as bright or energy efficient. “We learned that they could construct those lights,” says Dave Hauser, president of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce. “We hired them to build a prototype, which is the lights that you see in the downtown now, and we are in the process of raising enough money to build enough lights to install them along Broadway and Willamette, between Pearl and Charnelton and 11th and 7th.”
The prototype currently hangs from the light poles on the corner of Willamette and Broadway. Hauser estimates that more than $100,000 in donations from local businesses is necessary to finance the entire project, which would also include LED lights in the trees on north Willamette and East Broadway. “All of that is a pretty ambitious plan,” Hauser says. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re close.”
The function of the lights is to have a fixture that is reminiscent of the flower baskets that reside throughout downtown. “If you’ve seen the baskets, you know they kind of transform downtown in the summer,” Hauser says. “They make it feel and look a lot different when they are in bloom. And so the concept comes that when winter comes, when it’s dark and dreary, is there a way downtown Eugene could recreate the effect of the flowers?”
Not only will these lights be energy efficient, Hauser says they can also be programmed to display different colors to represent holidays, Ducks’ home football games and other events. “We wanted to do something that was unique enough so that it could be an attraction unto itself,” Hauser says. “We wanted to do something so unique that if you have a visitor, you would tell them, ‘Hey, I’ve got to take you downtown to show you these lights, they’re very cool.’”