A group of Glen Ellyn residents are stepping up their efforts to defeat a proposal that calls for installation of lights at a Glenbard West High School field.
Members of Our Field, Our Town have started raising funds to pay for consultants and experts who are expected to testify at a plan commission meeting next week. That's when zoning variances for the Memorial Field light installation will be considered.
Such witnesses will include professionals with expertise in land use and zoning issues, architecture and lighting, according to Jim Ozog, an attorney representing the group.
Organizers said they've raised "a couple thousand" dollars for the effort. Ozog said he is providing legal counsel pro bono.
Group members have also enlisted the help of a public relations firm, which put on a news conference at village hall Wednesday night. During the event, Ozog said members of Our Field, Our Town will bring their experts to the plan commission meeting -- just like Glenbard High School District 87, which is requesting the zoning variances.
"District 87 does the same -- on your dime," Ozog told about 50 supporters who gathered.
His wife Mary, who has also expressed opposition to the lights, was elected to the Glenbard school board in April.
Board members voted 5-2 to endorse a variance application for the lights at the meeting before she was seated, though it wouldn't have made a difference had they waited. Mary Ozog replaced then-board member Steve Sebby, who voted against the proposal.
Glenbard administrators have said the lights would increase usage of Memorial Field for student-athletes. Those opposed have argued the lights would increase traffic, hinder safety and create loitering problems in the surrounding neighborhood.
Also Wednesday, organizers formally announced their plans to get a nonbinding referendum on the March 20 ballot in which Glen Ellyn voters could weigh in on the lights proposal.
"We believe a referendum is a fair and appropriate way to capture the community's opinion," said Don Pydo, a member of the group and resident who lives near Glenbard West. "We don't care if you're for or against the lights. The objective is to let the people speak."
A total of 622 signatures are needed, per state statute, and organizers have said they already have a third of that number. The deadline to file petitions is Dec. 19.
It's unknown, however, if the plan commission -- and ultimately village board -- would wait until March for the results of the referendum.
But what if the referendum results in a majority of residents supporting the lights?
"Then my community has spoken," Jim Ozog said.