First reported 5/27/2009 10:03 p.m.

The formation of a mandated neighborhood advisory group, to help guide the process of installing lights at the Oak Park and River Forest High School football stadium, is nearly complete.

After the village board green-lighted stadium lights on May 18, one of the conditions required the school to bring together a group of stakeholders to help guide the way. Village Manager Tom Barwin and Supt. Attila Weninger are leading the process. And on Monday, Barwin said the committee will consist of about 20 members, ranging from residents to business people.

From village staff will be Cedric Melton, director of Community Relations; Village Planner Craig Failor and Police Chief Rick Tanksley. From OPRF, three staff members, including Weninger and Principal Nate Rouse, will participate.

Barwin said they hope to include 10 residents on the committee, including five from the neighborhood group APRIL (Alliance to Preserve Residential Integrity and Livability), which opposed the lights.

The village also plans to ask someone from the Avenue Business District, just a stone’s throw from the stadium, to join the committee.

Trustees last week suggested having an OPRF student take part, and Barwin said Monday that OPRF Student Council President Mara Blesoff will be added to the roster.

A resident also urged the village to include more nearby neighbors on the committee. And organizers obliged by bumping that number up to 10 from four, Barwin said Monday.

“It’s important to have more than just two people who will be affected, dramatically, by the installation of the lights,” Richard Newman, of the 300 block of Linden, said at a board meeting last week.

The advisory group was about 90 percent complete as of Monday, Barwin said. He planned to send letters out Tuesday morning to residents who volunteered to serve.

The group, which will focus on efforts to lessen the impact of stadium lights on the surrounding area, is expected to be active for several years. After that, the high school and village would determine whether to continue its existence, Barwin said. Members will meet several times in the short term to iron out issues, and then probably resume meeting when school starts again.

The first meeting is tentatively scheduled at 7 p.m., June 9, at the high school.

The village board still needs to approve a final ordinance, allowing a special-use permit and an amendment of Oak Park’s zoning text to allow the high school to install four light poles. Barwin said that could come to the board for approval at a meeting on June 15 or 22.

In an e-mail last week, Weninger said OPRF hopes to have the lights up in time for the fall season. The Huskie Boosters and other teams and fundraising groups have said they would pay for the installation costs, but Weninger did not have a “solid cost estimate” as of last week.

Trustee Ray Johnson emphasized that the advisory committee will not review the lights application, on which the Oak Park Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals already spent dozens of hours deliberating.

“I don’t want anyone to feel like this is the opportunity to rehear this case,” Johnson said.

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