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Glen Ellyn voters will consider Memorial Field lights

Memorial Field at Glenbard West High School (TribLocal file photo)

Memorial Field at Glenbard West High School (TribLocal file photo)

Voters in Glen Ellyn will get to have their say on whether lights should be installed at Glenbard West High School’s Memorial Field.

The advisory referendum on the March 20 ballot will ask voters whether Glenbard Township High School District 87 should be “permitted to install and operate permanent stadium field lighting on Memorial Field.”

The district has already gained permission from the village board to install the two 60-foot and four 70-foot light towers at the artificial turf field, and private fundraising for the project continues. However, the school board is not expected to vote on the plan until April.

Community members who oppose the lights, an organized group of citizens called Our Field Our Town, gathered hundreds of signatures to get the question on the ballot. They have expressed concerns about safety, noise and traffic congestion in the neighborhood near downtown Glen Ellyn.

“The feeling is that this vote was important to at least have known (how people feel),” said Adrianne Gregory, who helped collect signatures to get the question on the ballot. “It’s the due process that we’re looking for.”

At a public hearing hosted by the school district earlier this year, officials said the question is inherently flawed because Glenbard West families who live outside of Glen Ellyn won’t be able to vote, and because its phrasing is misleading.

In the full question, the field is referred to as a stadium and implies that it will be available for non-school related rentals. But in granting permission to the district to install the lights, the village barred the district from offering third party rentals, and the district maintains that the artificial turf field is not a “stadium venue.”

Gregory said the question was written before the village imposed the conditions in order to meet a county election commission deadline.

Don Pydo, another member of Our Field Our Town, said it’s important to get the community’s sentiment on the issue.

“A situation like this is going to impact the entire community,” he said.

The referendum is non-binding, however, so regardless of the outcome on March 20, the school board will still have the final say on whether lights are installed.

District officials have said they hope to have the lights installed for use during the 2012-13 school year, so athletic teams can use the field at night for practices. The cost of the light project has been estimated at $325,000. The school is expected to pay for it through private donations.

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