City of Lights
by Terry Date, Eagle Tribune
The Iluminación Lawrence project shines a light on the city and shows others its vibrant colors in a safe, upbeat setting.
In addition, it complements other plans to attract development, businesses and visitors to Lawrence.
The city got a glimpse of its lighted future last week when Iluminación organizers briefly shined colored LED lights through the west face of the Ayer Mill tower clock and over Casey Bridge piers.
In the coming year, the program — a city, state and nonprofit partnership — will make colored lights available at those landmarks any time and in any hue.
Other sites to be lit include the public library and its mural panels created by youth at Lawrence's art and social justice group, Elevated Thought; and the Warehouse Square wall at Everett Mill, the surface to be a canvas for projected art.
The project's initial phases are dependent on a $60,000 matching grant program.
The project's roots go back to 2017, when the city and the Lawrence Redevelopment Authority agreed to light the Casey Bridge. About the same time the Essex County Community Foundation followed suit with plans to light the Ayer Mill clock tower, said Karen Ristuben of the Essex Foundation's Creative County Initiative.
Out of these two projects sprang Iluminación Lawrence, with plans to spread the light to places the city and its residents want lit. They could be pedestrian ways, landmarks or parks.
Lawrence Library's director, Jessica Vilas Novas, born and raised in the city, says the lighting project recognizes the role art and a sense of place play in reaching economic development goals.
It also sends a message.