Westminster team sponsors to appeal again for later 'lights out' policy


Sponsors of the Westminster girls' softball and boys' football programs plan to try again to get later hours for field lights at Westminster Jaycees Park.

But any appeal they make may face an unfavorable recommendation from the city parks board.

Parks board members voted unanimously Wednesday night not to recommend that the City Council make any changes in the hours when lights must be turned off -- 9 p.m. during school sessions and 10 p.m. the rest of the year.

Before the vote, the board heard more than an hour of acrimonious debate between residents of the nearby Whispering Meadows subdivision and officials of the Westminster Jaycees Girls Softball League and the Westminster Optimist Football and Cheerleading Association.

Softball sponsors want extended hours to fit a 16-game schedule for a growing number of girls who want to play. Football sponsors want later hours five Saturday nights for league games. Residents want no change in the "lights out" hours at the park, on Johahn Drive.

"Why do we have to endure the fact that you want to pile it on in double-headers and disrupt our Friday nights?" said Whispering Meadows resident Cathy Markey. "We say no!" to requests for time extensions, she said.

James M. Catel of Uniontown Road told league officials, "We've got a policy. Live with it."

Field lights at the Westminster playground have not attracted any complaints from nearby residents, according to Ronald Schroers, supervisor of recreation. The curfew for playground lights is 11 p.m.

Ed Henry, president of the softball league, said he needs the park's lights on until 10 p.m. Fridays.

When a parks board member pointed out that the league's request was much broader, Mr. Henry replied, "You always ask for more than you're going to get."

The reply generated several angry comments from residents.

Mr. Henry said he plans to appeal to the City Council. John Meyer, president of the football and cheerleading association, said he would raise the issue again before the parks board. Mr. Meyer said games this fall will start at 6 p.m. rather than between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. He said he had hoped for a give-and-take discussion and an agreeable solution with residents at the Wednesday meeting.

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