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Group Opposing Memorial Lights Debates Impact on Neighbors

Cross-examination continued at Thursday's plan commission meeting.

The group opposed to lights at Memorial Field set out prove that light towers would negatively impact the neighborhood near the high school.

Jim Ozog, resident and lawyer representing the group opposed to the lights, continued to cross-examine officials and their expert witnesses regarding the installation of lights at Memorial Field during Thursday’s plan commission meeting.

District 87 wants to install lights at Memorial Field, but in order to do so district officials need approval from the village of Glen Ellyn’s board of trustees, following the recommendation of the plan commission.

Ozog first questioned the real estate appraiser hired by the district, Michael MaRous. Ozog focused his questions on whether the lights would negatively impact the neighborhood surrounding Memorial Field. MaRous stated the trees surrounding the field would create enough of a “buffer” from homeowners’ property, and would not negatively impact the value of homes. MaRous argued that because the area is used frequently by high school students, athletes, pedestrians on the Prairie Path, and trains throughout the day that the added lights would not change the characteristic of the area.

“There will be some change in the neighborhood due to this plan--my conclusion, long term--is that there is a benefit,” said MaRous.

Ozog then moved on to cross-examine Chris McClain, assistant superintendent for business services for District 87. However, Ozog was not allowed to ask McClain about a $44,000 study from 2010, which details accidents along Crescent Boulevard between Riford Road and Park Boulevard. Commissioners prevented the line of questioning because the study was not used in McClain’s original testimony and said he did not have to speak to the results. Considering this traffic study lead to the implementation of additional safety measures near the high school on Crescent Boulevard, in addition to McClain’s previous statements on traffic around the high school, Ozog thought the questioning was fair play.  

“They’ve relied on that report heavily. For him to back off was I think inappropriate. It was studied time and time again by the school board and relied upon by Mr. McClain, so he can’t back away from it,” said Ozog.

Just like the previous meeting Ozog tried to make a point that the lack of lights does not pose a hardship for the high school. In Thursday’s meeting, Ozog tried to point out that the district was trying to maximize the return on the field whereas the village’s approval of variance requests allows for only a reasonable return. McClain said if you peel back all the semantics the students suffer.

“We’re not adequately serving the needs of students and that is what the variance is all about,” said McClain.

There will be a special plan commission meeting next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the . During this time there is a chance that the public will be able to make statements.

Curious about the timeline of events leading up to the Memorial Field vote? that explains how the debate reached the plan commission. The article sheds more light on the traffic study Ozog refers to among other things. 

Sheri Peterson September 24, 2011 at 08:46 AM
Ramona, I have lived on Crescent Drive since 1976 and anyone who thinks that Crescent Blvd. is NOT a major artery in and out of town is a "very little minded person." Living East or West of the High School, this is the MAIN east/west street going into the Village for many of us and for those residents living West of the high school is it in fact the major artery to go East out of town. There is ALWAYS much traffic passing Glenbard West and always will be. You mention "fools friving around"..well my dear, the "fools" you speak of are in fact no fools but residents of Glen Ellyn who are shopping shopping in the village when stores are open; residents of Glen Ellyn who are eating at restaurants in the village. Those of us you call "fools" are wonderful, long term residents of this town who are trying desparately to do business in a village so we can continue to have shops and restaurants in Glen Ellyn to insure we continue to have a village! WE HAVE ONLY ONE WAY INTO THE VILLAGE AND THAT IS PASSING GLENBARD WEST HIGH SCHOOL. Perhaps you might consider who the fool really is..I believe it is you. Think before you submit your comments.
Ramona September 24, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Oh, and Sherry, I stand by my statement that if you drive by any high school, since there are always things going on at school, and not paying attention, then you are a fool. Also, if you have to stop your SUV to allow 4 cars to pass by, does not constitute a busy street. Roosevelt or North Ave are busy thoroughfares. So, put down the latte, hang up the phone (which is illegal in a school zone) and pay attention.
J September 24, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Something forgotten, conveniently, by many of the 'yes' people is the deception from the district on monies spent on turfing the field. The shell game, you, know, you taxpayers will pay 1/3 , OOOPS, hope no one is paying attention while it jumps hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, YES people, do you know or even care what this will cost us not just initially, but down the road? Those shysters ,Meissen and McClain, will be long gone when we have to re do the field, the first time. Let this go to referendum, let all the people have a chance to weight in and be heard.
Rich Magurkey September 24, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Jeff, good point that should be considered. Please advise what the life expectancy of the field, and replacement cost would be. Ozag must have asked this question in his interrogation of the defendants.
J September 24, 2011 at 05:00 PM
An 8 year life expectancy was said, but with more use possibly less life span. Also, the district, while not being straight about initial funding, has no plan that I'm aware of for funding the refurbishing. And, the parents group, Gain Ground, whose promise of 1/3 of the initial cost never happened, well, they don't exist anymore. Paul Murphy, who signed the GG agreement with the district that wasn't kept, maybe he's got another trick up his sleeve for when the field is redone.
Amanda Harnack September 24, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Does anyone happen to know the percentage of YES vs NO from people who live close enough to the fields where the lights will impact their evenings? I see lots of YES signs the futher I drive from the school.
Ramona September 24, 2011 at 07:10 PM
I would be more interested in how much more wear and tear on the field would be caused by the lights vs not having lights. I just don't think the field will be worn down that much quicker, but it would be good to know.
Samantha Liss September 24, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Thanks for keeping the debate civil, folks! I know it's a hot-button issue but I'm glad to see everyone airing out their opinions in a constructive way—it says a lot about our community.
Sheri Peterson September 24, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Ramona, My name is spelled Sheri. I don't drink in the car nor use a cell phone nor do I drive an SUV. And any person driving must pay attention! I am a senior citizen of this village my dear. I taught in many schools throughout this area for many years. Yes, ALL schools have many activities and that is why, young one, there is a decreased speed limit near every shool. Problem here is you missed the point...which is that Crescent Blvd is always and has always been a very busy street. There have been many accidents by Glenbard West over the years. One part of the "light" proposal is to "lease out" Memorial Field. That would tell many of us there will be more traffic and more parking will be added and thus..more conjestion. Where on earth did you go to high school? Do I dare ask where you went to college? This is NOT a study on which street is the busiest: Roosevelt or Crescent Blvd. This IS a study and concern by intelligent residents about the pros and cons of whether lighting, bigger loud speakers and added parking is necessary to GlenBard West students AND about the effect this proposal will have on many residents who are NOT students and about the effect this will have on a very quaint, charming, quiet village. I have signed a petition voting NO to the lights as have many others. May the democratic process work here better than in Congress. I will write no more to you Ramona....we are worlds apart and I wish to remain that way.
Art Stewel September 24, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Rich (and other sensibly minded Readers) - Unlike some weighing in, you seem fair and open-minded. I state that because 1.) you support referendum and 2.) your life expectancy comment below (indicates financial / long term view). I respect your position on the lights (differs from mine) and comments on the boards. Common sense to me is regardless of congestion (crowding) there is now and will always be traffic (vehicles) on Crescent passing Memorial Field at all hours of every day. The elements that don't exist are: 1.) kids after dark using Memorial on a REGULAR basis and 2.) lights. The issue is not congestion. The issue is adding the above two elements (kids and lights) substantially increase risk of a terrible accident on a narrow (proven dangerous) stretch of street that IS a major artery in to town (from East-West). The lights - in and of themselves - are a distraction. Kind of like walking by a mirror or a television set. I'm no scientist, but it's human nature to turn and look. When I walk past a mirror or tv I can't help myself from glancing. I'd bet nearly 100% of us do the same. Put the lights in and drivers (from our town - or elsewhere) will be distracted. Guaranteed. Add a driver distracted by lights, horrible timing, and the most important element - a kid - into the same equation and the result will never be good. Is that not common sense? How can anyone at D87 neglect that? How does Village Attorney stifle the safety issue?
Art Stewel September 24, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Hear, hear.
Ramona September 24, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Oh, Sheri, where I got my degree from really has no place in this arguement. And, I may have even had you as a teacher, you remind of some of my teachers, not of any good ones that I could name though, but I had my fair share of bad ones! You kinow that the kids will still be bussed away to fields with lights and then are bussed BACK to the school, So, the traffic on very busy Crescent will remain the same. It is not a busy street, it has a few moments of increased traffic, but I don't think an Amish farmer would consider that busy!! Please, retract your claws and try to keep to the arguement at hand.
the troof September 25, 2011 at 02:52 AM
These oldsters opposing the lights are the same people that oppose everything in town now that their kids are gone and they have no stake left in this town. It's really sad how they are driving this town down the drain.
Sheri Peterson September 25, 2011 at 07:11 AM
Jeff, I agree. This should go to referendum. Let the residents vote on this issue. Thanks for your constructive comments.
J September 25, 2011 at 02:53 PM
The troof? You need to show some respect to those older than you, which appears to be everyone above the age of 8. Those 'oldsters' help build this town, what have you done. Your homework assignment is to define fiscal responsibility and integrity. When you accomplish that, email Meissen and McClain your homework.
Bill September 25, 2011 at 05:36 PM
What is the District's PLAN B? They've said their students are not served by bussing them to other practice fields... so what's the PLAN B if these lights don't get approved? If there is no PLAN B, shall we assume there is a back room deal all cooked up to guarantee the approval? Is the District currently getting reasonable use of the property they purchaced for $10 without lights?
Ramona September 25, 2011 at 05:52 PM
The district will still bus students, they are hoping to bus less students with the lights. There are 27 ( I think, could be wrong) sports at the school, not to mention the club sports that will not be touching their fields. They need space, and this will provide a little more space.
Ramona September 25, 2011 at 05:59 PM
I agree with you to a point Troof, The people who fight so hard to keep it "old and quaint" will fight to the detrement of the town! They fought to keep Einsteins and Starbuck out of the quaint downtown, but downtown still remains vibrant and it is a lot better than empty store fronts!! The only ones who have been rude have been the old curmudeons and being old is no excuse for rudeness!!
Jay Donovan September 25, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Don't flame me if I am wrong, but I believe the number is 15%. I either read or heard that number -- 15%. That is 15% of students will benefit from lights at Memorial. 15% is a very small percentage to benefit from such a hotly contentious issue, in my opinion. If I am wrong about 15%, I apologize. No matter what it is, students will still be bussed around town. If anyone knows the actual number, please post.
Bill September 26, 2011 at 01:40 AM
So... there's no PLAN 'B'? How can the District say lights are necessary if they don't have alternate plans should this not get approved?
Ramona September 26, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Plan B is to keep doing as they have been doing. The goal is to keep a few more kids around school and a few less buses on our streets!
the troof September 27, 2011 at 01:14 AM
I actually have kids that go to school here, and sit back and watch as the seniors in this town do all they can to inhibit progress and anything that positively impacts the town and children, especially now that they are empty nesters. They sat back and watched as the CBD became a dated ghost town, they did everything they could to stop the only viable business (non-restaurant) that has opened in the CBD in the past decade in the Montessori School and they've let the place get run down. Now, people want to actually make improvements to the town and they still dump on it. Please.... just go back to complaining about the price of burgers, reminiscing about when coffee didn't cost so much, and walking around downtown and not buying anything.
J September 27, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Hey Troof, what have YOU done exactly for Glen Ellyn? Except for denigrating its citizens, anything? And, what businesses in the CBD do you support? Or, are you just pointing a finger that should be bent right back at you? And, what are you teaching your kids about respecting their elders? What goes around comes around. Don't forget that, troof. Unless, as I suspect, that the troof has yet to reach an adult age.
Ramona September 27, 2011 at 02:19 AM
You people who love the Dark Ages, you do know that the kids are crossing Cresent in the dark anyway? If you have a kid in basketball, badmitton, wrestling, volleyball, working out off season for another sport, etc...they are parking along the tennis courts or in front of Memorial field anyway and GASP crossing the busy street without thier mommies!! They have evening games, workout sessions, club meetings, band and orchestra practices and concerts, so the kids are there all school year, crossing the street, dodging cars, searching for parking. So adding an hour of light a few times a week really is not going to impactt the area at all.
Cecilia Ambutas October 03, 2011 at 10:58 AM
I am part of the group being called an Oldster, yet I have a freshman at West and a son at Hadley. I don't see how lighting up a neighborhood until 10:00, and swamping the area with extra traffic is considered progress. And Ramona, the plans are for the lit field to be rented to outside parties, not only used by GW students and potentially in use 6 nights of the week. Progress? Sure - tell me this cash would be used to build a state-of-the-art science laboratory or computer lab, and I would be all for it. Having to pay for a sports field which will negatively impact the surrounding residents - not so much. And no, I don't live in the neighborhood.
Ramona October 03, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Bean, look up some facts. It would be off at 9 pm. I am sure you have been around the school after 9 pm since you have a freshman. There would be rentals, but it would be limited because the high school will have primary use. That school has 7 football teams this fall, how much time do you think they have to rent that out? Sure, in the summer perhaps a group renting it out, but it does not have space to host large tournaments there, so perhaps a football or lacrosse camp? The school and park district already do that, and did before the field was even turfed. Why not earmark the rentals for other capital improvements? That could be done. And, I am an oldster too, living here over 20 years, and have a Senior at West and one at Hadley. So, the lights would never be up to benefit my Senior anyway. Having a great school system, good park district and such is what gives our houses value. When I moved here, I was shocked to find out they did not have lights, a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere has Friday Night lights, but we still won't have that.
Jane October 03, 2011 at 03:30 PM
A referendum on this issue would only be "advisory" and it would not remove the rights of the property owners within 1200 ft. The neighbors retain their legal rights which, of course, includes the right to seek relief in a court of law. The Village, because they "looked the other way" and did not stop a use of the property that is not allowed by the Zoning Code, is at risk of a lawsuit. The zoning of this property is for open space and passive recreation and open to the public. When the use was proposed to change to "active" recreational programming and restricted use, the Village should have required a special use permit application, held public hearings, and approved/denied the change of use. In my opinion, the best thing the Village could do right now to avoid a lawsuit (and save taxpayers money) is to require the District to re-submit their application requesting a zoning change or a special use for this property. Alternatively, the District (to avoid a lawsuit) could voluntarily withdraw their variance application and submit an application for change of use.
Cecilia Ambutas October 03, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Ramona, These are, indeed, the facts. http://www.glenbard.dupage.k12.il.us/districtnews/I04FC4392.1/MemorialEnhancementsQA.pdf Please note page two of this document which clearly states lights would be turned off at 10:00 pm. This document is from the District 87 website and was filed with the Memorial Field Variance Application. So Ramona, thanks for the suggestion.
Ramona October 03, 2011 at 04:55 PM
At the meetings at Village Hall, the school district stated 9 pm cut off with lights out at 9:30.
Maria October 03, 2011 at 05:44 PM
It really important to read the application and all of the other written reports and documents filed with the Village. The Village cannot impose restrictions on a variance (i.e.hours of operation). They either approve it or deny it. It cannot be a "conditional approval." The village can impose restrictions on a special use permit (but the District did not submit a special use application). In the variance application, it is stated that the hours of operation would be adopted as "policy" by D87, leaving the village and adjacent residents powerless when the District "needs" to revise thier own policy a couple years later. Here is a link to the application: http://glenellyn.org/GE/MemorialField/Memorial%20Field%20Variance%20Petitioner%20Application%20Packet.PDF

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