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Article updated: 1/6/2012 9:28 AM

Neighbors balk at Wheaton College's baseball field improvements

New dugouts are just part of Wheaton College's $3 million baseball field improvement project in Carol Stream. The village's plan commission and village board will consider other proposed upgrades, including field lighting, new stadium seating and concessions.

New dugouts are just part of Wheaton College's $3 million baseball field improvement project in Carol Stream. The village's plan commission and village board will consider other proposed upgrades, including field lighting, new stadium seating and concessions.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Wheaton College has proposed a $3 million improvement project at the American Legion Post 76 baseball field in Carol Stream. Some nearby Winfield residents are concerned about potential impacts of lighting, noise and drainage.

Wheaton College has proposed a $3 million improvement project at the American Legion Post 76 baseball field in Carol Stream. Some nearby Winfield residents are concerned about potential impacts of lighting, noise and drainage.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Wheaton College is planning $3 million worth of upgrades to a Carol Stream baseball field it leases from a nearby American Legion post, but some neighbors aren't enthused about the project.

The college's baseball team has played games and practiced at the field, located behind American Legion Post 76 at 570 S. Gary Ave., on and off for about 15 years. College officials have proposed adding field lights, upgraded stadium seating for 242 spectators, a press box with public address system, locker room and a concession/washroom building.

The Carol Stream plan commission is expected to consider the college's zoning permit application at a public hearing either this month or next.

The village already issued a stormwater permit for use of synthetic field turf. Crews have begun installing the turf, with work expected to be complete in March, according to Bruce Koenigsberg, the college's architect.

That would be just in time for the start of Wheaton College's baseball season.

But some Winfield residents whose properties abut the American Legion field have expressed concerns the upgrades would lead to more traffic and noise in the area, as a result of the field's increased use. And they got Winfield Village President Deborah Birutis to send a letter to Carol Stream Village President Frank Saverino to relay their concerns.

"It's not our field. We understand that," said Rick Campbell, president of the Mission Court homeowners association, which encompasses more than 50 homes. "We can't say, 'No, don't build your baseball field,' but we can say, 'Why do you need lights? Why can't you play in the afternoon?'"

Koenigsberg said he and other college officials have met with Campbell and the homeowners' board, and "are willing to work with neighbors to fine tune these systems to minimize the impact."

The college wants to install eight light poles, each 80 feet high. Koenigsberg said each fixture will have shielding to prevent light spillage.

Night games would be scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m., unless there are extra innings, or a doubleheader.

Koenigsberg also said the light and noise level will be "as required by Carol Stream," and the college intends to comply with all village zoning codes and ordinances.

Campbell said residents also are concerned that an existing stormwater detention pond to the north won't be able to handle increased drainage. But Koenigsberg said two studies have shown surplus capacity in the existing pond will be adequate.

Last October, officials from Wheaton College and American Legion Post 76 signed a 50-year lease agreement for the college's use of the field, according to Del Miller, a member of the Legion post.

Miller said use would be primarily limited to the college's baseball team, which plays in the spring, and the Legion's baseball team, which plays in the summer. The Legion also leases a 3-acre soccer field on the west side of the property to Wheaton Park District.

The facility will be named in honor of Lee Pfund, a longtime baseball coach at Wheaton College.

College officials say about half of the project's total cost has been secured, and fundraising is ongoing.

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