Flagler Beach will pay about $6,342, with the federal government paying the rest through a 75%/25% federal/local matching grant.
How many government dollars does it take to change a lightbulb? About 600, when the bulb is on a pier and sea turtles are involved: Changing out all of the Flagler Beach pier's 42 bulbs with turtle-friendly ones will take about $25,000, including installation and fixtures, with the federal government picking up 75% of the cost.
The Flagler Beach City Commission unanimously approved a $25,365 bid from Synergy Lighting of Bradenton, Florida for turtle-safe lighting on the pier during its regular Feb. 25 meeting and will use a 75%/25% federal-local matching grant to pay for it. Commissioner Steve Settle was absent from the meeting.
The pier's lighting was supposed to be turtle friendly already.
In fact, turtle-friendly lighting was a condition of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, administered through the state starting in 2012, that the city has been using to pay for pier hardening — the work intended to strengthen the pier and make it more resistant to storms and corrosion.
That grant — a matching 75%/25% federal/local matching grant, with the federal government paying $988,451 and the city and other local governments paying a total of $329,483.50 — required that the pier's turtle-friendly lighting system, installed more than 20 years ago, be maintained, according to a documents in the city's meeting backup files.
But the city discovered last year that the system's bulbs had been replaced with ones that weren't turtle-friendly.
State inspectors told city officials that there is still money available that the city could use to fix the problem — at the same 75%/25% match as the city had in the original FEMA grant — and extended the time period the city had to comply with the grant's terms to April 30, 2016.
The city sent out a request for proposal, and city staff favored the Synergy one, which was the middle of the three bids that came back, in terms of price. The lowest was $22,841. City staff preferred the Synergy bid because it "sheds a more diffuse light" than the lower bid and would be installed by four workers instead of one, cutting the amount of time the project might affect foot traffic, according to the meeting backup documentation. By the time the match was taken into account, the city would only be paying $632 more for the Synergy system, and $6,342 overall, according to the meeting backup documentation.
The Synergy lighting system will be housed in custom boxes that will line the pier — 20 on each side, staggered, plus two at the T-end of the pier, for a total of 42 — and require all new wiring and U.S. Fish and Wildlife-approved amber LED turtle-friendly bulbs, according to the meeting backup documents.