The future of Islamorada’s Morada Way Arts and Cultural District is getting brighter, literally. Between the Old Highway and U.S. 1, from the Green Turtle Inn to the Hurricane Monument, 29 streetlights were recently installed, much to the delight of nearby business owners.
“Our little area has become something and the lights are another puzzle piece to make it what I feel it should be, a nice walkabout in the season,” said artist and gallery owner Roberto “Pasta” Pantaleo.
Panteleo was one of several Morada Way business owners urging the village of Islamorada to install lights along this stretch of road that in recent years has become a bustling arts and entertainment spot enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists. Every third Thursday of the month, residents and visitors flock to the popular Art Walk. Once the temperature starts to go down, turnout significantly goes up.
“So many people during season use that for biking and walking,” said Florida Keys Brewing Co. owner Cheryl McBay. “It’s great. It’s been a long time need so I’m glad they actually pulled the trigger and did it,” she added.
Islamorada Public Works Director Andrew “AJ” Engelmeyer says the streetlights will provide added illumination for the parking areas and will light up the shared use path. “The area hosts many events throughout the year and has a lot of foot traffic during the night hours,” said Engelmeyer.
So far, Engelmeyer said, the lighting project has cost $500,585.
Boca Raton-based Transportation Solutions and Lighting handled the job from design all the way to installation. Installation started three months ago. “We had to trench for new electrical services and also dig large foundations for the poles,” said Brad Berner, vice president of sales. Berner said it was important for the lights to fit in with Islamorada’s look. “They’re LED, they’re high-end decorative fixtures. They are kind of marine grade.” Berner added that if all goes as planned, the lights could be operational within the next couple of weeks.
Blue Marlin Jewelry has been in this Islamorada location along the Old Highway since 2014. For several years, owner Armando Gonzalez has pushed hard for the lights. “I’ve been after every commissioner I can find for Islamorada for the last 8 or 9 years telling them, we need to get lights in here, we need to get lights in here,” said Gonzalez, who cited pedestrian safety as a primary concern. “I was just happy to see them finally go in,” he added.
McBay is already looking ahead to the holiday season. “The next thing is Christmas lights. Now we have power in the middle there, all of those big beautiful trees need to be lit up,” said McBay. “How cool would that be?”