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District 87 Gets Earful From Residents

Nearly a dozen speakers took the floor at a Monday night District 87 School Board meeting to voice their opposition to proposed enhancements to Memorial Field.

District 87 school board members got an earful from residents who are concerned about proposed enhancements to Memorial Field during a Monday night meeting at the District’s headquarters.

District 87 officials say adding lights, bleachers and completing other projects is important for student use of the Memorial Field facilities. Concerned residents say the proposed enhancements will increase traffic problems around the field, bring increased numbers of spectators and cause harm to the neighborhood and village.

Currently proposed enhancements to the field include adding field lighting, installing a sidewalk along the third base sideline of the baseball diamond, adding bleacher seating to the north side of the field and renovations to the tennis court.

The issue of adding lighting to Memorial Field is at the top of resident’s complaints about the proposed enhancements. In particular, residents who live in the area near Memorial Field are concerned about the light and noise disturbance to their daily lives. But the issue has also opened the door to more general complaints pertaining to Memorial Field as well.

Resident Kirk Burger handed out photos and documents to board members before carefully going through a list of safety concerns he had regarding Memorial Field and traffic on Crescent Boulevard. Burger said that adding lights to the Memorial Field would blind drivers as they pulled out of parking spots on Crescent Boulevard.

“If you put lights there, in what is a very dangerous street, you’re going to be blinding people,” Burger said about the prospect of adding stadium-style lighting to Memorial Field.

Traffic safety is another chief concern of residents, who claim that the additions will turn an already poor traffic situation on Crescent Boulevard into something even worse.

“I am deeply concerned about the District’s push to install lights at Memorial Field,” said resident Tom Koprowski in an impassioned speech to the board. In terms of making Crescent Boulevard safer, Koprowski said, “It appears the District has achieved the opposite.”

Resident’s traffic concerns relate to a number of what they call problems with Memorial Field, but a recurring concern is the increased traffic that Memorial Field will generate through rental of the field to Park District and third party renters. Residents worry that by adding additional spectator seating and installing lights—thus allowing games and practices to run later into the night—will increase traffic problems in an area that saw no shortage of accidents last year, including a student hit by a car at the intersection of Crescent Boulevard and Park Boulevard.

School board members listened intently throughout the public participation segment of the meeting, during which nearly a dozen residents spoke in opposition.

Chris McClain, assistant superintendent for business services, led the presentation to board members and attempted to offer solutions to residents concerns. In addition to the presentation he made at a , he included information to quell residents fears of late night games and bright lights at late hours with spreadsheets containing proposed times when the field would be used and just how often the lights would be needed.

“I think we’ve got some difficult soul searching to do,” said Vice President F. Thomas Voltaggio. He added the board would need to make some difficult decisions in balancing the schools needs and residents concerns. “My sense is that the overall sense of the community is that this is something you would not like to see pursued.”

The school board is looking for approval to submit a variance application to the Village at its Feb. 22 meeting, but board members seemed unsure if they would end up voting.

“I don’t know if we will take a vote on the 22nd,” Board President Rose Malcolm said, adding that two board members were absent and more information might be needed for the board to come to a decision.

If the board does vote to give the go-ahead to seek a variance application, the matter would likely go to the Village’s Plan Commission sometime in March.

Linda Gilbert February 08, 2011 at 04:59 PM
There was not an open seat in the house, in spite of the photo attached to this article - taken after a number of people had left. It looked to be a good 70 people turned out, though the attendance sheet will not have captured them all since many could not get near the table with the sign-in. With over a million in debt left over from the artificial turf, one can see why the school is eager to try to generate income by renting the field at night. However, hasn't enough time, energy and money been spent on our sports teams? Instead of blighting the center of town with 8 story light towers that will be on until 10:00 p.m., lets focus all of that passion and energy on our curriculum to benefit the futures of all of our children.
K. Adams February 08, 2011 at 08:25 PM
When all of the concerns over this lighting are listed from the financial burden to safety to the huge impact on many, many neighbors and the entire village and compact downtown area, I don't see why we all as village residents don't see that this is ill advised and that having the artificial turf is enough of an impact and we should stop there. This lighting will change our village atmosphere dramatically as never seen before and hugely change the environment for the unfortunate neighbors around it, not to mention the entire village. Even blocks away the noise and light will be heard and seen. Please think very long and hard about this. The students that will benefit from this for the 4 years that they are at West will be long gone while neighbors and residents have to live with this for many, many years into the future.
Matthew Hendrickson February 08, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Hey Linda and K., You're right the pictures do make it seem like there were less people there than actually were. I can testify that the place was packed (which you don't see often at school board meetings). The photos of the crowd were taken later in the evening after the public participation section. The photos above were largely taken during the District's presentation. This was not an attempt to editorialize, it was just too hard to take photos earlier in the night when the room was crowded and report at the same time. Thanks for starting the discussion! Anyone else want to weigh in?
l white February 09, 2011 at 02:54 AM
That would be horrible to bring in all those people to use Memorial field. Why would down town Glen Ellyn want to take advantage of people coming to the center of our town to participate or spectate at Memorial?? You people our so closed minded. Not only would lights and finishing off memorial field benefit today's students and future students it would benefit the entire community. Let's not forget that this field sits on top of TRAIN TRACKS! Those who think it will ruin their neighbor hood already live in an area effected by the tracks not to mention the lights at the tennis courts. I trust those in charge of completing Memorial Field will keep our children and the community's safety as a priority and plan accordingly.
Tom "Pig Daddy" Koprowski February 09, 2011 at 04:51 AM
In February 2010, the Village of Glen Ellyn hired the engineering firm of Burns & McDonnell at a cost of $44,000 to conduct a detailed safety and traffic study specific to the area of Crescent Blvd. that runs between Glenbard West High School and Memorial Field. The Village hoped to use the study to secure federal funding to improve the condition of Crescent Blvd. This study had been commissioned before the turf was installed, but it was not completed and delivered until August 2010, about the time the turf project was finished. In December of 2010 that funding request was denied. What I find extremely troublesome is despite knowing that a safety and traffic study had been commissioned by our Village prior to the installation of the turf, the District chose not to wait for its results. Why? It seems like a backwards way to do it, one that will cost more money in the end and perhaps limit the number of better solutions to some of the problem issues raised.
Tom "Pig Daddy" Koprowski February 09, 2011 at 04:55 AM
It turns out that the Burns & McDonnell study is chock-full of safety issues -the core of which is due to roadway geometry, configuration, proximity to the railroad tracks and artery feeds. These safety issues require a solution BEFORE any lighting of the field be allowed to take place as lighting will only make these concerns worse. Something that the District fails to talk about is crash statistics. Per Exhibit 8 to the Burns & McDonnell study, between 2004 and 2008, there were 53 crashes on Crescent between Park Blvd and Riford Rd. involving side swipes, pedestrians, pedal cyclists, rear ends, turning and hitting fixed objects. Village records show 6 crashes in 2009. However, crashes nearly doubled in 2010, including one hit pedestrian. More than half of the 2010 crashes occurred in the two months between September 20, 2010 and November 20, 2010. These statistics suggest that the additional safety measures put in place by D87 do not work and in fact may have made it worse. Within 2 months after the installation of field turf, we had as many accidents as the entire year of 2009. Adding light to this situation is a recipe for disaster.

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