Impact of OPRF lights shouldn't be underestimated, go unreported

Opinion

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The OPRF Board of Education gave the Boosters permission to explore the support and concerns surrounding the potential for permanent lighting in the stadium field. We find it both curious and disappointing that both the Boosters and John Rigas of the District 200 Board of Education don't understand why the neighbors would object to this process.

After two public forums, public comments from many neighbors and a petition signed by over 200 people, co-chair for the Booster study Ron Murphy reduced the neighborhood impact concerns to three: Light trespass, noise and safety.

No thanks. We want hearings hosted and attended by the people responsible for making decisions, decisions that could significantly impact the quality of life homeowners expect. There are many dimensions to this issue that cannot be reduced to just three: loud events after sunset that would prohibit normal conversation and normal bedtimes; lights illuminating the neighborhood, living rooms and bedrooms; increased crowds; increased traffic; safety issues; parking issues; diminished property values and diminished quality of life. All of these issues and others were discussed at the February meeting.

The May 2 meeting was billed as a follow-up to address the concerns identified during the first forum. Other than a projection of the number of days that the lights would be in use, the Boosters were unable to address them with meaningful, fact-based responses.

Yet, the District 200 Board supported the Boosters and wasted their time and efforts in a process that has no jurisdiction or responsibility. It has been a weak substitute for the kind of impartial public hearings that must be held anyway, should the District decide to go ahead with lights.

The Boosters are not the appropriate body to draw conclusions about the potential impact of lights to the neighborhood. Each time the stadium lights issue comes up, the neighbors request sound environmental impact studies. Isn't this the most likely next step before coming out with any type of report or recommendation? Now, as Ron Murphy explained at the May 2 meeting, if the District 200 Board decides to install lights they expect to transfer the responsibility (and the cost) of any environmental impact studies solely to the Village of Oak Park.

Neighborhood objection to this process shouldn't be so difficult to understand.

We also find it particularly curious and disappointing that WEDNESDAY JOURNAL has not covered the May 2 public forum, nor the last OPRF Board Of Education meeting where the 200-plus Alliance to Preserve Residential Integrity and Livability (APRIL) submitted signed petitions. But as editor Dan Haley made clear, this newspaper isn't too concerned by the anticipated "song and dance" by the neighbors, nor do they think their readers should be.

Note to Mr. Haley: Despite biased (non) reporting, we continue to believe that this decision is a community issue and Oak Park continues to be an area where community issues concern us all?#34;not just those most directly affected.

Terry Lieber and Lane Hart
Oak Park

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