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Article posted: 6/12/2012 5:04 PM

Glenbard West lights $75,000 less than expected

By Christopher Placek

The cost of installing six light towers at a Glenbard West High School athletic field is less than school district officials originally thought.

The Glenbard High School District 87 board voted this week to approve a contract with Wheaton-based Thorne Electric, which will install the lights at Memorial Field for about $250,000, including the price of contingency and other fees.

Earlier cost estimates had put the cost of the light installation near $325,000. A fundraising effort led by school boosters and parents brought in that much, thanks to 340 donors, including an anonymous one who gave $100,000.

"The committee raised more than it needed to, but they didn't know where the bids were going to come in," said Chris McClain, Glenbard's assistant superintendent for business services.

It's likely the leftover funds will be available for future improvements at Memorial Field, including installation of bleachers and a sidewalk, McClain said.

John Brodner, a Glenbard West parent who led the fundraising effort, said it's a good situation to be in, rather than coming up short.

"The big thing was getting money raised by the deadline," Brodner said. "Everyone had big sign of relief when we hit that number."

Thorne Electric was the lowest bidder of three firms that submitted proposals to the school district. One of the firms did submit a bid close to $325,000, including fees.

Thorne will install four 70-foot-tall and two 60-foot-tall light poles on site -- which required zoning variances from the village.

The project was scrutinized over the course of 11 meetings of the village plan commission and two meetings of the village board during which the pros and cons of installing the lights were presented by Glenbard officials and members of Our Field, Our Town, an anti-lights group.

District officials said the lights will increase students' use of the field, while many residents argued the lights will disrupt the character of the neighborhood and create noise and safety problems.

A prominent lights opponent, Mary Ozog, was elected to the school board in April 2011 -- and sworn in a meeting after the board approved sending the district's variance application to the village.

On Monday, Ozog was the lone vote against approving the project bid, arguing the district should also have sought bids for various lighting vendors in addition to the district's preferred vendor, Musco Lighting. Musco had been the district's lighting consultant whose staff testified during the village meetings.

The light project is expected to be complete by Aug. 28.

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