Over-the-top letter on OPRF lights undermines neighbors' credibility

Opinion

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Freedom of speech and expression are basic tenets in our society, yet we live in an environment today where it is not enough to debate those you oppose but more importantly to vilify them through half-truths, innuendo and gross misrepresentations.

In a Dec. 14 letter to the editor [Booster Club's high-pressure tactics resented by neighbors, Viewpoints] "near neighbors" to the OPRF stadium went over the top in their rant against the Booster Club.

In an obvious attempt to mislead the community, they claimed the Booster Club was using "high-pressure tactics" to sway the school board with bumper stickers and lawn signs.

One of the really great aspects of River Forest and Oak Park is that many of our residents were educated at OPRF as well as other fine schools around the country, and they can discern facts from fiction.

Let's examine the facts: The letter stated that "The Boosters' proposed 'gift' has already resulted in significant expenditure of public time and funds." Fact: there have been zero funds, much less "significant funds" expended in this debate. As for public time, aside from the 15-minute presentation made to the board, the only other time expended has been the countless hours devoted by the Boosters to researching the matter and presenting it in the open forums which the Boosters hosted on two separate occasions for neighbors and public.

You went on further to paint a scenario of the Boosters taking up the administration's time discussing lights while they should be focusing on a litany of inequities at the high school which you weave into a visual of Supt. Sue Bridge and the Boosters fiddling while the school burns. Fact: The Boosters have exchanged several one-paragraph e-mails with administration personnel regarding the lights. School administrators have purposely not engaged in any planning of any sort on the stadium lights until after the board makes a decision.

Next you inferred that the Boosters in some way "cooked" the MLS listings or township property rolls to show inflated pricing of those homes in your neighborhood since the lights went up on the south field. Fact: Take a walk over to the assessor's office or your favorite Realtor and see for yourself. The prices that were quoted are a matter of record.

Now comes the real whopper! You discuss "costly increases of Oak Park public services. Extended hours usage of the stadium, if enabled by lighting may reasonably be expected to result in more litter, traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) and parking on our street, with attendant needs for increased police and street-maintenance presence before and after games. Emergency calls due to injuries?#34;whether they are caused by inter-fan conflicts [?] or on-field activities ..." Fact: All of these costs are already present for day games at the high school, unless you are implying that night games would be better attended because parents and students would have time to make it on a Friday night. But I would never try and put words in your mouth.

Reality is that yard signs and bumper stickers are popping up everywhere because the OP-RF communities want the lights.

I would be willing to take your proposal for economic and feasibility studies to the membership of the Booster Club and ask that they raise the money for the studies with one provision?#34;if the studies show that there is no impact from the lights, then you and the other "near neighbors" agree to pay the bill. Better yet, why don't we have a referendum on the matter?

Ron Murphy
Co-chair, Lights Committee,
OPRF Booster Club

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