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updated: 9/9/2011 5:27 AM

Residents grill Dist. 87 over Memorial Field lights

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  • The Glen Ellyn plan commission holds a second public hearing on zoning variations for proposed improvements to Memorial Field, which includes installation of lights on the various ball fields.

      The Glen Ellyn plan commission holds a second public hearing on zoning variations for proposed improvements to Memorial Field, which includes installation of lights on the various ball fields.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Jim Ozog, a Glen Ellyn resident and attorney representing Our Field, Our Town, cross-examines Glenbard West Principal Jane Thorsen during the second Glen Ellyn plan commission public hearing on zoning variations for proposed improvements to Memorial Field. The improvements include a controversial proposal to install lights.

      Jim Ozog, a Glen Ellyn resident and attorney representing Our Field, Our Town, cross-examines Glenbard West Principal Jane Thorsen during the second Glen Ellyn plan commission public hearing on zoning variations for proposed improvements to Memorial Field. The improvements include a controversial proposal to install lights.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbard West Principal Jane Thorsen is cross-examined by Jim Ozog, a Glen Ellyn resident and attorney representing Our Field, Our Town, a group of residents opposed to lights at Memorial Field, during a Glen Ellyn plan commission meeting Thursday.

      Glenbard West Principal Jane Thorsen is cross-examined by Jim Ozog, a Glen Ellyn resident and attorney representing Our Field, Our Town, a group of residents opposed to lights at Memorial Field, during a Glen Ellyn plan commission meeting Thursday.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Members of a Glen Ellyn community group opposed to lights at Memorial Field got their first chance to question Glenbard High School District 87 officials and hired experts about the proposal during a public hearing Thursday.

It was the second meeting of the 11-member Glen Ellyn plan commission to consider the district's variance application that proposes installation of four lighting poles at the Glenbard West practice field. School officials have argued that the addition of lights would allow for greater usage of the field by students.

As part of the plan commission proceedings, members of the Our Field, Our Town citizens group had an opportunity to cross-examine the district's witnesses, who provided testimony to the commission Aug. 25.

Glenbard West Principal Jane Thorsen has said the lights would increase opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities.

Jim Ozog, a resident who lives near Memorial Field and is the attorney representing the group, said Glenbard West already has the highest percentage of participation in sports among the four Glenbard district schools. He also argued that participating in sports is a privilege -- not a right.

Ozog asked Thorsen if studies have shown that schools with lights lead to students with higher grade-point averages.

"There's a positive correlational relationship between extracurriculars and student achievement," Thorsen said. "Logic would tell you that lights give students more opportunities."

Ozog asked Glenbard West Assistant Principal for Athletics Linda Oberg if coaches have been enticed by other schools because there's no lights.

"Coaches complain about how much easier it would be to work at other schools, rather than waiting for buses every day," said Oberg, in reference to the number of students who travel to practice at nearby parks.

Upon discussion of the proposed metal-halide lamp bulbs, Ozog brought up a published warning from manufacturer Musco Lighting, the district's lighting consultant: that the bulb may break, and pieces of hot glass could be discharged into the "surrounding environment."

Ryan Marsh of Musco, said the "surrounding environment" is considered to be within an enclosed fixture that would prevent anything from going outside it, or external factors coming in.

But he agreed that Musco does have to post a notice about potential breakage, personal injury and property damage, per governmental regulation.

"Will you offer this community a 25-year guarantee that our houses will not catch on fire and that our trees will not catch on fire?" Ozog asked.

"I cannot do that," Marsh responded. "It's not part of the warranty."

Ozog maintained that the district's request for light installation doesn't meet the requirements of the village's zoning code.

"Is the property owner deprived of their rights or deprived of their desires?" he said. "No rights are being denied. This case is all about desire."

The public hearing will continue at the next plan commission meeting Sept. 22. No matter the vote of the commission, the village board has the final say on the lights proposal.