For the first time in a year, Glen Ellyn's village board on Monday took up a controversial proposal to install lights at a Glenbard West practice field.
But an organizer with Our Field Our Town, the residents group opposed to the lights, criticized some board members for perhaps having already made a decision.
He cited a story in the Dec. 30 edition of the Daily Herald in which three trustees indicated they would vote to approve Glenbard High School District 87's variance requests for the lights at Memorial Field.
"The comments we saw in the newspaper would indicate there's a preconceived notion, prior to testimony," said Don Pydo, who spoke on behalf of the anti-lights group at the village board workshop meeting. "In my opinion, if members of this board of trustees are sending a message in advance, it's inappropriate."
Trustees Carl Henninger, Pete Ladesic and Phil Hartweg had said they would likely vote in favor of the school district's proposal, which includes installation of four 70-foot-tall and two 60-foot-tall light poles.
On Monday, Glenbard officials reiterated their position that installation of the lights would increase usage of the field for students, while some neighbors continued to argue that the lights would alter the character of the community.
Village President Mark Pfefferman told Pydo it was within those trustees' rights to declare an opinion beforehand if they so chose.
"As legislators, board members can advocate a position," Pfefferman said. "We are spoiled -- in a very good way -- in that our boards usually do not do that."
After 11 meetings, the plan commission voted 6-3 last month to recommend approval of the light variances. Henninger told Pydo that he would use the plan commission's recommendation as a starting point, but that he never makes a final decision until public comment and deliberations at board meetings have concluded.
Hartweg also said he was leaning toward voting "yes" after reading the transcripts from the 11 meetings, but that his final decision remains open based on testimony at the board meetings.
Pydo also criticized "leadership members of this community" for having pro-lights signs in their front yards.
Ladesic admitted that he previously had such a sign in his yard, which his wife put up. He said he consulted with the village attorney, who said he was under no obligation to take it down. But Ladesic said he asked his wife to take it down.
"I can state what I stated to the newspaper, that I was generally supportive of the concept of lights to Memorial Field, but we're not fulfilling our obligation until all testimony is heard -- and that's what we're hearing," Ladesic said.
Trustees Robert Friedberg, Diane McGinley and Peter Cooper haven't publicly declared their opinions on the issue -- nor has Pfefferman, who would cast a potential tiebreaking vote.
Pfefferman has said trustees intend to take a vote at a meeting next Monday.