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Residents Allowed to Voice Opinion on Memorial Lights

It was the first time the public was able to comment on the proposal for the installation of lights at Memorial Field.

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. 

Jay Donovan October 13, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Last night several Glen Ellyn Commissioners testified. Thus far, every single Glen Ellyn Commission to weigh in has been UNANIMOUS in opposing the lights. Each Commissioner presented, on the public record, like good, decent, honest public servants. They seemed entirely credible in presenting their findings. It was moving. Thanks for this reporting, Samantha Liss. Samantha attended the entire hearing and then wrote this piece, probably until the wee hours. She is a local treasure on par with the beautiful and historic GBW campus.
Ramona October 13, 2011 at 03:27 PM
It was only two representatives from two commissions, and did anyone expect the Historical Preservation to back lights really? One person was from the Historical Society and that is not part of the village commissions, and then a trooper for OTOF. I can't believe that anyone sould imagine that tournaments could be played there, it is only 1 field, there is no room for a tournament. You need several fields for that. There was tons of speculation last night, but not too many facts that lights would make matters worse. People park like idiots along Cresent, there are already evening events at the school, so how are the lights going to make this worse? It already exsists. This is a failure of upholding current laws and being sure that people understand where parking exsists. People brought up funding, but that is not what this commission is concerned with, they are here to grant a varience on the property, how it is funded is not part of their job. OTOF is just trying to muddy the water with things that have nothing to do with variences.
Citizens for Healthy Development October 13, 2011 at 03:36 PM
The Planning & Zoning Commission absolutely MUST consider whether or not the variance results in an increase in public expenditures. You can find a copy of Glen Ellyn's Zoning Code Variation Guidelines for Hardship here: http://tinyurl.com/3ngkbrj
Jay Donovan October 13, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Ramona, your opinion is valued to the discourse. You are against the lights. Fine. Your credibility wanes when you ignore veritable truths and misstate or misrepresent facts. It is also tough to tolerate your hatchet attacks against the opposition. The funding and cost of the lights IS a concern of the Planning Commission - and all of us. Last night two representatives from two Commissions, Environmental and Historical, spoke on behalf of their respective Commissions and every member. We learned that the Planning Commission was not accustomed to other Commissions weighing in. There is precedent. Their testimony is particularly important in light of Trustee Freidberg's statement that the Board of Trustees consider the entirety of the process. They look at everything that has come before the Planning Commission. It was nice to hear that there will not be a rubber stamp. It was nice to hear the Chair defend the Trustees and the process. It will be nicer still when the Planning Commission votes no. Of course, the nicest thing would be for the Planning Commission to not have to vote at all. This is the type of local issue that will condemn them or anyone in office. District 87 has the power to end this. They should act with honor. In light of the massive opposition and fracture to the community this sordid and divisive issue is causing, District 87 ought to withdraw the application.
Jack October 13, 2011 at 06:15 PM
If one of the opponents who lives within 1200ft of Memorial Field filed a lawsuit today on the basis that District's current use of the property is in violation of the zoning code, then D87 would likely withdraw the variance application at least until that matter is settled or decided in court.
Samantha Liss October 13, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Thanks for the comment, Jay!
Ramona October 13, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Actually Jay I am for granting the variences for the lights. If you bothered to read what I wrote, I said only 2 committee members came, not a representative from each of the committees that are part of the village government. You are right, they were speaking on behalf of the entire committee though, I think I wrote it as though they were speaking for themselves. What I was trying to point out was hearing from the historical society, it was a given that they would be against lights. But, funding is NOT what these variance hearings are about! Just because I get a varience to put a 3rd floor onto my house, if I don't have the funding, it is not going to happen. I wish people would stick to the subject,most especially at these meetings. really, Jay, what we learned is that OTOF is hoping to filibuster this issue until everyone gives up and drops it.
Jack October 13, 2011 at 08:07 PM
A variance cannot be approved if it results in an increase in PUBLIC expenditures. People also have to remember that variances run with the land. Should D87 decide some day to sell this field, these variances and uses run with the land and are permanent. If D87 had applied for a special use permit (which they should have done), then the permit is issued to the party or the user. With a special use permit, the use does not run with the land permanently.
Jay Donovan October 13, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Jack - If I'm not mistaken, didn't District 87's prior variance application result in an increase in public expenditures? I am uncertain of the facts, but I understand that the Village essentially bailed out District 87 after the last variance application was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission. Please correct me if I am wrong. My apologies Ramona. I did read what you wrote and typed that out incorrectly. I think it's been crystallized on these boards you are in favor. Sorry for that.
Jack October 14, 2011 at 02:24 AM
I should have said: "A variance cannot be RECOMMENDED by the Plan Commission if it results in an increase in PUBLIC expenditures." The Village Board has legisltative discretion and can pretty much do what they want. Usually a super-majority vote (2/3) is required to approve a variance that comes with a recommendation from the plan commission to deny the requested relief from the zoning code. As for the previous variance approvals, someone within 1200 ft has to challenge them in court. Unfortunately, this is how local gov't operates - back room deals that leave folks no other recourse that the courts. Politicians know that most people cannot afford to take issues like this to court. But when someone does, it can change the outcome. Here is an example: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20100518/business/305189946/

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