Silverton Avenue is one of the few roads in Durango that is still made of dirt. Just a few houses line the narrow lane that follows the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks. Now, with a proposed northern extension of the Animas River Trail, the dark, quiet neighborhood could be changed by activity along the new path.
Almost two dozen people Thursday attended a demonstration of lights that are planned to be installed along the trail extension. Three railing lights and one bollard light illuminated about 150 feet of Silverton Avenue as residents gathered around Scott Chism, landscape architect with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, as he explained how the lights would function.
Railing lights will be spaced 32 feet apart and can cast light in about an 8-foot radius. The bollard lights – short, round posts with a light on top – will be placed every 100 feet and cast light in about a 10-foot radius. Each of the lights will dim to 20 percent brightness after five minutes if there is no movement.
“We try to acknowledge our environment that is quiet and dark,” Chism said.
Steve Zeller said he stood out in the cold to ensure the lighting on the road would not impact the quaintness of the neighborhood.
“We’re madly in love with our country road feel, and we want to keep it that way,” he said.
Louise Teal said she’s “very concerned” about the dark sky. It’s a selfish concern, but a worry nonetheless, she said. City workers in attendance seemed to be receptive to good ideas, something Teal said she was happy to see.
“I think they’ll get good feedback, and you get to see the reality of the lights,” she said of the demonstration.
Adding lights and a trail to a neighborhood that hasn’t had one creates a lifestyle impact, said Cathy Crum, who helped the city host the demonstration by providing power. Crum attended the demonstration to understand firsthand what that impact may be, she said.
“It does impact so many people,” Crum said. “If we’re not involved, then we’re missing an opportunity to participate in advancement.”
This is the second such light demonstration the Parks and Recreation Department has hosted, said Director Cathy Metz. The department has also met with homeowners individually to address concerns about trail fencing, access and placement.
“What were trying to do is answer questions of the community. This is more visible,” Metz said. “We work a lot with adjacent property owners, so this is not atypical to meet with residents individually, address their concerns. We do this a fair amount, but you may not hear about it.”