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updated: 2/1/2012 8:37 AM

Memorial Field lights can go up -- but district needs $300,000

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Glenbard High School District 87 officials say lights at Memorial Field in Glen Ellyn could be installed and turned on as soon as August, now that the village board has approved necessary zoning variations.

That time frame is dependent on a fundraising effort to garner the estimated $300,000 to $325,000 for the project by April, according to a preliminary schedule released this week by the school district.

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However, members of Our Field Our Town, the citizens group opposed to the lights, say the district already has a good start on that fundraising target.

Don Pydo, an Our Field Our Town organizer, said group members filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the district seeking a copy of a letter from a single donor to the lights project. Pydo says the donor committed up to $300,000 to the school district.

Chris McClain, Glenbard's assistant superintendent for business services, said a donor "has indicated they're committed to the project," but did not confirm if a donation has been made or how much it could be.

He said the district is planning a fundraising effort to be done in the next two months, but didn't want to launch it until the project had been approved by the village board. He has said all funds for the project would have to be in hand before the project goes out to bid.

Steve Garwood, co-president of the Glenbard West Boosters, said district officials hadn't yet spoken to him about fundraising for lights at Memorial Field, and group members haven't discussed it at board meetings, either.

If the project receives approval from the school board, bid documents could be issued by May and a contractor could be selected by July. Construction is expected to take about five weeks, and is targeted for final completion on Aug. 31, according to the district's tentative schedule.

"That's the timeline that we would have to execute to have the project complete in time to have for students when they come back in the fall," McClain said.

If not, the lights installation would have to be delayed until next summer, since officials don't want to disrupt physical education and extracurricular programming at the field during the school year.

The village board on Monday also approved variances for other Glenbard projects at Memorial Field, including installation of fencing, an ornamental gate, a batting cage, a sidewalk and bleachers.

McClain said those projects will be prioritized and completed later, but the district wanted to work on the lights first since it's "what gives us the greatest value for students."

Village officials had asked the school district to bundle all proposed variances for Memorial Field together, even if the projects wouldn't be completed immediately.

Kirk Burger, president of Our Field Our Town, said the group would continue to let people know about the nonbinding referendum on the March 20 primary ballot that will ask Glen Ellyn voters to weigh in on the lights issue.

"It's viable and important no matter what the trustees felt," Burger said. "If the referendum comes back pro-light, then we'll drop the issue. We've just been trying to defend our neighbors and our village. The village has fallen short in taking care of its people."

A public hearing on the lights issue is scheduled for Feb. 27 before the school board.

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