Annual lighting tour looks at campus

by Nathan B. Anderson | 11/20/98 6:00am

The rain came in horizontal sheets as the small, yet vigilant gathering for the annual Dartmouth College Lighting Tour huddled in front of the Hopkins Center last night.

The group included several members of Facilities Operating and Management, a professor from the biology department and only one Dartmouth undergraduate.

The tour was led by Safety and Security Sergeant Rebel Roberts and embarked upon a whirlwind circumnavigation of the campus in an effort "to evaluate the exterior lighting on campus."

These soggy proceedings were more specifically designed to point out dark, obscure or otherwise scary areas of campus.

Roberts pointed out many areas of insufficient lighting with the hope that FO&M would be motivated to plant additional lamp posts to eradicate any traces of nighttime darkness.

Facilities, Operations and Management employee John Gratiot said the tour had been a tradition for him for at least 10 years, and during each of those years an average of 10 to 15 new light posts were installed after the tour.

The tour represents the joint effort of Safety and Security and FO&M in judging dark areas and adding lights to correct them. Though lights have not been installed in accord with a master plan, Gratiot is positive about the lighting, and said, "We've done a lot of good lighting here; we really have."

Roberts represented the voice of safety in advocating more lighting. Although there are more than 120 exterior lights on campus, Roberts said she wants "to light everything."

As uncontroversial as a safety-first lighting policy may appear to be, the proposed illumination of every nook and cranny has generated an opposing faction.

Biology Professor Emeritus David S. Dennison represented the voice of aesthetics and moderation in campus lighting.

Dennison attended this jaunt in the rain to ensure that those who disliked light pollution and enjoyed starry nights were heard in determining light post placements.

Other factors considered in light placement include energy costs to the school and the sometimes difficult maintenance of good relations with owners of private property adjoining the campus.

Though only an annual event, the participants of this year's tour have an additional campus lighting event in the anticipated visit of a "lighting consultant" from Lam Partners of Cambridge, Mass.

Lam ranks among the elite of lighting groups in the country. Their consultant is expected to correct any major flaws in the Dartmouth lighting scheme while satisfying the needs of the various conflicting groups.