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Editorial: Lighting the way downtown

With decorations and lights, downtown Greenfield is sending the right signals for the holiday season.

It’s warm and inviting, which is quite welcome even if the weather isn’t nearly as cooperative as one might wish or the hours of daylight continue to shorten as we head toward Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice and the official start of winter.

Warm and inviting, that’s what any downtown wants. Such an atmosphere comes about through a combination of factors — from stores and businesses that offer the goods and services one wants to convenient hours and free parking in the various town-owned parking lots.

An indication that it’s working can be seen in the number of pedestrians, heading in and out of businesses and keeping the sidewalks busy.

And, while they don’t always factor in when the weather turns cold, the benches placed around downtown also send a welcoming message.

We’re glad to see that after years of debate over downtown benches, Greenfield is increasing the number of resting spots around town. While at times a particular bench may seem like it’s been commandeered as someone’s personal property, we think for the most part they are being used as designed — for a rest for weary feet, to meet someone or to simply bide a bit while engaged in people watching. The benches help establish a tone of being a friendly, comfortable and welcoming ... and downtown Greenfield is better off because of them.

If we think there is a specific issue that remains to be dealt with along Main Street, it would have to be the street lighting.

It was redone about a decade or so ago, and the resulting streetlight illumination produces a soft glow that is attractive.

But it is also problematic at night for drivers trying to seeing people crossing the street. Whether at a crosswalk or between, the lamps produce a windshield glare, and there just isn’t enough light shining down so that pedestrians, especially people bundled up in dark winter clothing, can easily be seen.

We don’t know how many near misses there are, and that fact that few pedestrians have been hurt so far is comforting.

But we think it’s only a matter of time before someone is hit.

We’d like to see improvements made here. It could be it’s a case of brighter bulbs, or, more likely, some sort of shade that adjusts the angle of the light shines down on the street — reducing glare for motorists. Or perhaps some sort of spotlight could be positioned so that it shines along each crossway, illuminating those in it.

Whatever the improvement, it will only aid in making downtown Greenfield all that more inviting year-round — and a lot safer at night.

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