About 344 individuals whipped out their pocketbooks to contribute to a controversial project that divided the Village of Glen Ellyn. In just 47 days, the group made the deadline and the pot of money , more than what was asked of them to install lights at turf field.
The proposal to install lights at Memorial Field, near downtown Glen Ellyn and surrounded by homes, caused an uproar in the community. Some residents, mainly those living around the field, protested the installation of lights, while the other half encouraged the project so it could help ease the field shortage problem at the landlocked high school. Enough residents felt strongly about the issue to put it to a . 414 votes separated the two sides, the majority of residents, 54 percent, voiced their opinion in favor of lights at the turf field even though the project was already . So the final hurdle was for an ad-hoc group of residents to collect enough private funds to erect the two 60-foot and four 70-foot light poles.
John Brodner led the fundraising charge and was able to raise enough funds from individuals and corporate matching programs to ensure a fully-funded project. Brodner said it wasn't difficult to get people to donate. Individuals contributed anywhere from just $10 to thousands.
"I think people support projects that have direct benefit to the community," said Brodner.
Amy Hasso is one of the 344 who stepped up to the challenge. She and her husband have three boys, two of which will benefit from the lighted field. Hasso said she donated because lights seemed like an obvious answer to the field shortage at Glenbard West, Hasso added, it will not just benefit her boys, but many Glenbard West student athletes to come.
"We're happy to help in any way that we can," said Hasso, also a West graduate.
Steve Garwood grew up in Glen Ellyn, played sports and graduated from Glenbard West. Even though he has fond memories growing up in town, he said he didn't donate to live "vicariously back in those times." For him it was more about equity even though his son might not benefit from lights.
"We are one of only two fields in our conference that does not have lights on any field. It was done more out of a need to enhance the limited assets that we have," said Garwood.
Glen Ellyn is a "bedroom community" to Bob Gorski, and that means children should come first.
"I think our town is passionate about our kids and giving them every opportunity we want to give them." Gorski was glad to see the community come together in such a short amount of time to raise enough funds for the project, which is slated to be complete in time for the 2012 fall season.
"I'm proud of the town coming together. I think it's a great signal to our kids and the surrounding communities," said Gorski.