As an Oak Park resident and grateful graduate of OPRF High School, I hope you will reject the Boosters' proposal for stadium lights on the high school football field and adjacent playing fields. There are other areas of our children's education that need more attention than the ability to play night games. Additionally, the long-term expenses and the harm to Oak Park's historical character make stadium lights undesirable.
Every school has different strengths. One of OPRF's chief strengths is that it is situated in a historical and sophisticated town that draws people from all over the world. In fact, the school is nestled in the midst of the town's historic district. Supersizing the school's playing fields (as the lights would effectively do) is neither a good nor a necessary option for this particular high school. Although there a current enthusiasm for "Friday night lights," there are also signs that our teenagers are being encouraged to overdo athletic competitions?#34;which is a different topic than physical fitness.
Adults who are eager to watch their children play an occasional night game should also think about the long-range costs of stadium lights. One of the first unexpected costs to residents in Mundelein (when their high school got stadium lights) was overtime pay for police officers who were needed to direct traffic. And it's not just traffic. Oak Parkers may remember that May Madness was halted, partly because of a fight that broke out on North Boulevard. The store owner had to call the police to break it up. The village stopped this event that was attractive to young people but was also a recipe for trouble because of the difficult of maintaining a prudent adult-teenager ratio.
Night games will generate high electricity bills, more litter and noise. Oak Parkers who live in the vicinity of the high school who want to put their children to bed, or go to bed early themselves so that they can get up for work, would experience a serious hardship, for a not-very-noble cause.
Although the Boosters vaguely mention "light shields," the board should be aware that the strong prairie winds inevitably move the shields. An annual readjustment of light shields is another cost associated with the Mundelein stadium lights, to people's dismay. And the noise from the PA can't be shielded at all.
I urge you to carefully study the true educational value of night games to our students and also to do to a careful environmental impact study that considers increased traffic, noise levels, and light spillage. A responsible study would also survey the residents of similar towns that got stadium lights, in order to understand the real-life impact.
In conclusion, adding more stadium lights to the high school campus would make Oak Park more like Wrigleyville?#34;a regrettable legacy for this board to leave to the students and residents of Oak Park