Jul. 24, 2013: Time is of the essence for a committee of Bronxville residents opposed to permanent lighting on Chambers Field at The Bronxville School.
The Committee to Oppose Lights is planning to circulate a petition in opposition not only to the installation of permanent lights, but also to the lighting feasibility study approved by the Bronxville Board of Education at its July 9 reorganization meeting.
"This is not the first time permanent lighting has been opposed for Chambers Field," stated Maureen Hackett, Willow Road resident and committee member. She noted that a petition circulated in 2005 gathered over 100 signatures of residents against installing permanent lighting on the field.
Opposition to the planned feasibility study centers on quality of life issues in the neighborhoods surrounding the school and the intention of the village code as it addresses lighting.
Hackett said that permanent lights on Chambers Field would go against the code's statement that lighting within the village will be regulated to ensure a nighttime appearance with respect to the village's character.
"Adding lighting of this type would create a commercial and carnival-like appearance," Hackett said, adding that additional factors, such as environmental pollution and stress on living conditions and the health of nearby residents, would erode the quality of life Bronxville residents appreciate and expect. "Neighbors of the school buy into a certain amount of activity, but when it gets to be after hours, they want it to be quiet and look like nighttime."
The Bronxville School, according to Hackett, assured its close neighbors in 2005 that no permanent lighting would be installed on Chambers Field. Although turf field renovations done at that time included the installation of sleeves to accommodate electrical cabling, Hackett said, school officials stated that it was not a "back door" tactic to the eventual installation of lights.
"You can imagine how the neighbors reacted to this announcement that the school is doing this feasibility study," she said, adding that the board of education resolution addresses effects, cost, and footing of lighting rather than giving any concrete design specifications about the actual lights.
Hackett estimates that there are 300 homes within 500 yards of Chambers Field, with at least 12 homes within 20 feet of the field's perimeter, making for a dense residential area. She pointed out that, with townhouses and single-family homes on three sides of the field, "it's not in a location where it's appropriate for that type of lighting for night play."
She added that, although the school's neighbors understand that the field will be in use every school day, the field currently accommodates games and practices seven days a week. Neighbors are concerned about increasing that capacity by creating more time at night for field usage.
Hackett said that a serious effect over time, and one on many people's minds should the school install permanent lighting, is the potential decrease in property values due to erosion of the quality of life.
"I understand that the school is somewhat exempt from the village building code," Hackett said, "but I would assume they want to comply with the spirit of the code since the school resides in the middle of the village."
"We don't really even know who does want the lights," she said, speaking for the committee.
Pictured here: Chambers Field, where the installation of night lighting is being considered by the Bronxville Board of Education.
Photo by N. Bower