Two years after the an amended application was first submitted for permission to install athletic lights in Keystone Park West, the River Forest Development Review Board (DRB) voted 5-2 Thursday night to grant a highly conditional approval. That approval will be formally forwarded to the village board for a final decision following the requisite approval of a formal “findings of fact” on July 20. The earliest the village will deliberate will be at its regular meeting on Aug. 14.

Several DRB members made it clear Thursday night that they were unhappy with what they perceived as the River Forest Park District’s lack of response to the board’s previously stated concerns.

Board member David Berni, who was not present when the DRB last voted on the West field lights application, expressed a generally held opinion among review board members when he said that any caveats regarding DRB approval “be conditional, not ‘maybe.'”

Said DRB Chairman Frank Martin, “We’ve heard, ‘we’re willing to consider,’ but no commitment [from the park board].”

When Richard Smith suggested that the village’s and park district’s lighting consultant’s “work together to agree on a very specific “will-do list,” Martin pointedly replied that the park board had previously been presented with a number of suggestions to address neighbor’s concerns about existing lighting.

“For six or seven months, we haven’t had anything like [a will-do list] from the park district.”

Martin recommended a motion for approval, with specific, binding conditions.

That motion named four “good faith” acts mentioned in the park district’s amended application as formal conditions for approval. Those four actions include a timer for the tennis court lights at the east end of Keystone; a mandatory 10 p.m. lights-out policy in Keystone East; landscaping on the west end of Keystone West to mitigate light invasion on condos there; and adjustments to the lighting technology in Keystone East.

Berni suggested the DRB accept lighting consultant Peter Hugh’s recommendations for remediating light problems on the east field, including the placement of visors on all north-facing lights and limited retrofitting of visors on east- and west-facing lights. In addition, the system would be re-wired to allow different sections of lights to be turned on, rather than en masse as they now are.

Berni also stressed that any work on the mandatory east field improvements must be done prior to any use of west field lights being allowed.

Noting that he is only one of five commissioners and that the park board must first see a specific list of conditions, park board member Dale Jones said afterward that he believes the park board will likely accept the DRB’s conditions. The only sticking point, he said, might be “technical feasibility.”

“Based on my sense of the board … I do not see anything in terms of the conditions that the DRB had placed here, that I don’t think the board can comply with,” said Jones.

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