Property rights take priority over park recreation demands

Opinion

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Henry Gregory, One View

We should not allow additional lights at Keystone Park (West). If this issue had been voted on by the village trustees as it was scheduled to be on Jan. 9, the matter would likely not have passed. This is not to say that this matter would be behind us. The park district's application for lights on the west field has failed at the Development Review Board?#34;not once, but twice. It's now been "hot-potatoed" by our trustees. The park board looks poised to go at this ad infinitum (ref. reports of power-house attorney hiring), which is unfortunate. So late on Monday night, I considered crying "uncle"... thinking that perhaps we could ask the park board to issue sunglasses to all the affected homeowners. But we can't cry "uncle." This matters too much. This is a good neighbor issue; our kids our watching.

On Jan. 9 at the village trustee meeting, those in favor of the lights paraded a number of folks who lived "south of the tracks," stating they were for lighting the west field. Not one of this group lives close enough to the park to make their assertions about living "south of the tracks" relevant. No one who would be directly affected by the lights spoke in favor of them?#34;all spoke against.

My family lives on the 300 block of Keystone?#34;on the end away from the park. I would hope that the glare from the lights would not impact us directly, as we appear to be far enough away. My opinion is therefore not NIMBY-ish, as I am not talking about "my back yard." I do believe those whose homes would be directly affected deserve to be heard, and that their opinions carry greatest weight. I will confess to writing with their plight top of mind. I will also offer that my wife has coached children's athletics in our community, and that we have one daughter and another one on the way, and that we hope each will participate in athletics. Yet our wishes for our kids' athletic enrichment can't begin to compare in importance with a family's enjoyment of, and investment in, their home.

This issue is impacting our children?#34;they are watching their parents and their parents' friends closely on this?#34;they are learning lessons as this process goes on. If we're not careful, they'll come away from this with the wrong message on the matter of "might vs. right." The park board has acted heavy-handedly throughout this ordeal, ranging from the early requisitioned "pre-wiring" for the would-be lights (which later was quashed, thankfully) to Jan. 9's many misstatements, including one uncovered by a village trustee concerning grossly-inflated numbers of supporting petitioners. The park board's brazen approach, however, has no fundamental bearing on my wish to bar installation of additional lights. My reasoning, rather, is this: the lights on the eastern part of the park are less-than-attractive replacements to the trees that were removed, and they're a nuisance to the park's neighbors. Nuisances do not add to enjoyment or to property values, folks. If they did, the new homes surrounding Priory Park would have welcomed lights on those fields?#34;instead, they prohibited them.

That a group of individuals believe they are entitled to adversely impact the enjoyment and potential investment value of a family's home because they would like their children to play after dark is staggering to me. It's un-neighborly. Do they really believe that their child's avocation takes greater priority over what is likely to be the single largest investment of the families who are neighbors to the park? At 39, it's hard for me to believe I am a dinosaur, but perhaps I am. I believe that when it gets dark, especially during the school year, kids should come home ... to work on homework, to talk with their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, to read books, do puzzles, and to get rest, so that they can begin the next day in the right way.

One final perspective: I am part owner of a privately-held company with roughly 4,500 employees, and roughly 300 stakeholders. We have checks and balances in place; we have a board of directors. If a number of our shareholders banded together, intent on taking our company in a different direction, they would have to bring their request before our board. Our board's job is not to act as a "thermometer reading" for the current "climate." It is charged with the responsibility of doing what it believes is right. So, too, must our DRB and village trustees?#34;do what is right?#34;for our community. I urge them to be good neighbors and to be good examples for our kids.

Lights on the eastern part of the park were a mistake. We shouldn't follow them up with another mistake.

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