Residents finally voiced their opinions on the proposal for Memorial Lights at during Wednesday’s special plan commission meeting.
Plan commissioners have listened to both officials and the opposing group, Our Field Our Town, present their side of the case during court-like testimony. After numerous meetings, commissioners allowed the public to comment, so members not associated with either group could share their stance on the contentious community issue.
However, many comments came from members affiliated with either Our Field Our Town, or from other Glen Ellyn commissions.
Kay Hendricks was the only witness during the public comment section to get up in support of lights at Memorial Field. Hendricks said she represented a majority of seniors in the community who stood with the school district.
“Why are we fighting so hard to limit the facilities for these students?” asked Hendricks.
Long-time resident Rinda Allison reminded plan commissioners that most of the testimony was all smoke and mirrors. Allison urged plan commissioners to put aside their feelings, and to stay focused on what was germane to their decision, which is whether the district has presented a case of hardship, allowing for variances to the village code.
Then members from the Historic Preservation Committee, Environmental Commission and Citizens for Glen Ellyn Preservation all stated that their groups objected to the installation of lights, many referring to a resolution passed by their members.
Ressident and 1964 Glenbard West graduate, Mary Ellen Walksler, said the school district is opening Pandora's box by crying “inequity.”
“At the end of the day we aren’t talking about hardship as much as were talking about convenience, or perhaps inconvenience,” said Walksler.
Before the public comment section the Our Field Our Town continued with testimony from two residents. Tom Koprowski presented on the safety issues surrounding Memorial Field, particularly along Crescent Boulevard.
Koprowski said the school district put the “cart before the horse” when it decided to begin the installation of turf at Memorial Field before waiting for the completion of a traffic study. Koprowski presented a slew of pictures to show the dangers along Crescent Boulevard and how many motorists ignore no parking or no u-turn signs. All of this will only become worse if lights are installed, according to Koprowski, which he says is based on accident reports.
Koprowski said the total amount of accidents in 2009 occurred in the two months after the field was built. And, all of those 2010 accidents occurred between 7:25 a.m. and 2:09 p.m. And, all of those same accidents occurred during school months. But most importantly noted Koprowski, 60 percent of those accidents occurred at Ellyn Avenue and Crescent Boulevard, which is a shift from accident prone areas along the Crescent corridor, which are typically farther east and west.
So, Koprowski said if the school wants to maximize the field, drawing more spectators and participants to the area would likely create more consequences, putting pedestrians in danger.
The other OFOT witness, Gina Meyers, a mother of Glenbard West athletes, presented her case on leasing the field. Meyers' main point was: If the school needs the field to be lighted because of a hardship, then why would officials lease the field, creating less time for students?
The next meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 20 at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center.