at Clarence D. East turned out to be a game-changer in how the city approaches stadium lights and sound at York High School.
A group of neighbors and York parents are so confident that the new lights, to be installed next month, will be so effective in reducing spill that they now seek "self-governance" for the next year.
"Our overall goal is to use this new technology and maximize use of the field so our kids can play, but do it in a way that’s considerate and fair to the neighbors and not put an undue burden on the people," resident David Kleinhans said Monday during an Elmhurst Development, Planning and Zoning Committee meeting.
An anonymous donor contributed $150,000 for the purchase and installation of the new lights. Kleinhans said $100,000 already has been raised to repay the donor.
Kleinhans spoke for the York Community Advisory Council, a group of residents District 205 assembled for the purpose of discussing the issue and recommending changes to the city's Zoning and Planning Commission.
The ZPC approved their proposed in April, but the effectiveness of the new lights has neighbors, boosters and District 205 officials alike hoping for a year-long trial period beginning Aug. 1 to see how they live with the new technology at the field.
"Neighbors will be amazed by the difference," Frank Schuh, director of buildings and grounds at District 205, said Monday. "I don't think we'll be revisiting problems due to lighting next year."
The problem now seems to be how the city enforces a light ordinance at Clarence D. East Field for the next year. Aldermen appeared comfortable with a year delay, but currently the city must still enforce a 1986 ordinance capping York events with lighting to 12 times a year.
"I think it's a really good idea, in a way," Than Werner, Elmhurst's zoning and planning administrator, said Monday. "But what mechanism do we have to put in place to allow them to do that for a year?"
The city used up three consecutive temporary use permits for lights and sound during the spring sports season. Fall sports begin Aug. 10. City Attorney Don Storino said one option could be a one-year "special use" ordinance with a sunset clause that allows for the law's expiration after one year.
"The (ZPC) and (YCAC) were clearly on the right track and spent months and months developing some commonality of interest, and to lose that … would be a mistake," Storino said. "But to bring all that together and yet follow the code and legally have something on the books ... is the way to go."
The City Council would still be crunched for time if they went in that direction as well. The DPZ committee is not expected to meet again until July 11, and a special use ordinance would have to be approved by both the committee and full council. It is expected such action would not happen before the beginning of the fall sports season at York.
This means that members of YCAC and other neighbors, at least in the short-term, may get their wish of self-governance over the football field.
"Communication is truly the key to this thing. It got to the state it did because of the breakdown in communication," 2nd Ward Alderman Norm Leader said. "I think that such a proposal has an excellent chance of succeeding ... A year's data would be very useful and helpful."