Editor’s note: The following letter was sent before Monday, May 18, when the village board was set to discuss Oak Park and River Forest High School’s stadium lights application.

Dear village trustees,

Please do not approve the lighting of the OPRF High School stadium!

We write to you, for the first time in our lives, as 34-year residents of Oak Park who moved here when many were fleeing “change.” We chose Oak Park for its economic and ethnic diversity, architecture, schools and its quality of life.

We have owned a two-flat, bungalow, townhouse and now a condo. Our children attended public elementary and high school here. As our nest emptied, we downsized, but our tax burden has increased. Our current annual property tax bill is more than $9,000, despite an apparent 15-percent decline in the value of our condo. Friends our age (mid-60s) have moved to more affordable communities. We have opted to stay because we can’t imagine living anywhere else.

We have had faith in Oak Park. We hope that commitment is still justified. We oppose the Huskie Boosters’ proposal to install four 100-foot light towers at the OPRF stadium in order to have 60-plus nights of games and practices. As you are aware, the Historic Preservation Commission recommended against the proposal as a violation of the historic and architectural character of the neighborhood. After detailed and lengthy testimony, both the Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission split, but did not approve the proposal. Now our newly elected board is asked to vote its approval. To do so, in our opinion, would be a violation of the rights and interests of Oak Park residents, property owners and voters.

Beyond its obvious negative impact on the property values and quality of life for those several hundred of us who of live in the surrounding neighborhood, overriding the expert and considered opinion of three separate advisory boards and commissions who made an in-depth study of the proposal would set a terrible precedent for this new board or any board. You will have ignored those volunteer agencies that supposedly help you make informed decisions. Whether or not it is true, you will be seen as having caved in to a well-financed campaign with more political and media clout than those of us who numerically may be in the minority, but who will suffer the most if you approve this proposal. Please vote on principle and not politics.

Robert and Karen Messer
Oak Park

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