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Government

Lights out: Glen Ellyn park board votes down controversial Newton Park light installation

The Glen Ellyn Park District will not proceed with a controversial project to install lights around Newton Park's synthetic turf field.
The Glen Ellyn Park District will not proceed with a controversial project to install lights around Newton Park's synthetic turf field.

GLEN ELLYN – The Glen Ellyn Park District Board of Commissioners on May 16 voted 5-2 not to proceed with a controversial project to install lights around Newton Park's synthetic turf field.

New board commissioners Ben Stortz, Alex Durham and Michael Ward, along with commissioners Kathy Cornell and Chris Wilson, voted to direct staff not to proceed with the project. Voting in favor of the project were board President Julia Nephew and Vice President Rob Weber.

The project had generated opposition from neighbors who were concerned the lights would increase noise and traffic problems in their neighborhood. However, Park District Executive Director Dave Harris had said that at night, only one field at the park would be lighted.

The project had been moving forward. The previous board voted 5-2 on Dec. 13, 2016, to install the lights at an estimated cost of $250,000. Voting "no" were Cornell and Wilson.

However, the board in January decided it would be best not to move forward with the project until the new board was seated.

Stortz, who lives near Newton Park, won a two-year seat on the board in April. Following the vote in December 2016 to approve the lights, he criticized the action, saying commissioners should have postponed the decision "until they address safety and have a better sense of the impact supported by data."

The plan was to install four light poles around the perimeter of the field – two on the home sideline and two on the visitor sideline.

The Glen Ellyn Village Board would have needed to approve two variances regarding the height of the poles and the distance between the posts on each sideline. As proposed, the poles would have been 70 feet in height.

There would have been 11 fixtures per pole with two additional lights that would be 20 feet high on the west poles for the warm-up and sled hill areas.

The installation of the synthetic turf field at Newton Park also was controversial. Citing health concerns, a group of residents unsuccessfully had tried to stop the field's installation. The field was installed in 2015.

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