A controversial plan to install lights at Glenbard West High School's Memorial Field in Glen Ellyn has moved a step closer to reality.
The Glenbard High School District 87 board voted 5-2 Monday to send a variance application to the village to clear the way for the lights.
The move follows a series of contentious meetings that began in February in which community members, parents, students and coaches on both sides of the issue sparred over the proposal's merits.
And it foreshadows what perhaps could be a lengthy village approval process. The plan commission will consider the district's variance application first, and if it is approved, the village board would have final say.
Already Monday, three residents opposed to the lights spoke to the village board. They argue the lights would result in more traffic in the already-congested area and adversely affect safety.
"You're seeing us because the variance is coming your way," said Kirk Burger, an organizer of "Our Field Our Town," a group of residents who signed petitions and spoke against the lights.
School district officials have said installing the lights would allow greater use of the field.
Chris McClain, assistant superintendent for business services, said Tuesday the school district is now in the process of completing its variance application, and officials expect to be present at village meetings to answer questions about their proposal.
Even if the lights are approved, when they might be installed isn't clear. McClain said the district is looking to the community to raise funds, and construction wouldn't begin until the money is in hand. An early cost estimate for the project is $300,000.
McClain said a capital campaign committee raised $285,000 previously for installation of field turf at Glenbard West, on top of a $50,000 contribution from the school's booster club.
"For something like this to be successful, a couple committee members have to step up and drive a fundraising campaign," he said.
As another financing option, the district could seek funds from Glen Ellyn Park District, which has an intergovernmental agreement with the district for use of the field, and currently pays $20,000 annually. But that's just one idea, and both the park board and school board would have to approve it, McClain said.
The school board's vote Monday came a week before a new board member, Mary Ozog, is seated. Ozog, a Glenbard West parent, has spoken against the lights. But it's likely the school board's 5-2 vote would have remained the same. Steve Sebby, who was defeated in this month's election, voted against it, as did Board Vice President Tom Voltaggio.
Board President Rose Malcolm and Tom Trefilek, who were both re-elected, voted for the proposal.