Later-hour lighting of ball fields rejected


Westminster City Council said no to letting the lights burn later on Jaycees Municipal Park ball fields before the City Parks Board gave the council a recommendation on a request for later hours.

The parks board will discuss a request from two leagues for later hours on the lighted fields at its meeting Wednesday, board Chairman Jay Voight said. He said the board may draft a recommendation to the council despite the council's consensus not to change the hours.

The fields on Johahn Drive in The Greens subdivision have been the target of neighborhood complaints about bright lights and noise. City government installed light shields and planted trees.

Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said he didn't intend to pre-empt the parks board's recommendation when he raised the lighting issue at the June 26 council meeting.

"I was unaware of what the parks board was doing at that time," he said.

Five days earlier, the board deferred action on a request for extended hours to give neighbors a chance to comment before the board sent a recommendation to the council.

The Westminster Jaycees Girls Softball League and Westminster Optimist Football and Cheerleading Association asked for a 9:30 p.m. "lights out" Sunday through Thursday during the school year and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday when school is not in session. The deadline would be 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday throughout the year.

Current rules require the lights to be off at 9 p.m. during the school term and 10 p.m. when school is out.

Ed Henry, president of the softball league, said the council decision left him feeling that he didn't have a chance to make his case. League representatives said that more players sign up each year and that longer hours are needed for a traditional 16-game schedule.

"That should not have been voted on [by the council] until a presentation was made," Mr. Henry said.

A poll of council members Friday showed unanimous opposition to extended hours for the field lights.

Mayor Yowan said he would reconsider "if, and only if, I was convinced that the residents who live in that area were fully behind [longer hours]."

Councilman Damian L. Halstad said it's difficult to balance the interests of the ballplayers and the park's neighbors. The existing hours are reasonable, he said, and "any exceptions would really start to intrude on the surrounding community."

Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro said he didn't believe that the council had made a decision at its June 26 meeting.

"The parks board still has a chance to talk about it next week," he said.

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