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Proposal sheds some light on Counsell Field nighttime usage in Whitefish Bay

Jan. 23, 2013

Whitefish Bay - Whitefish Bay Little League is in the planning stages of bringing field lights to Craig Counsell Park.

Representatives from the Little League and Iowa-based Musco Lighting came before the Village Board on Monday to get preliminary feedback on their plans for lighting two of the fields at the park, which could mean league games ending as late as 9:30 or 9:45 p.m.

Little League President Josh Levy said the plans call for an automatic 10 p.m. shutoff time.

With concerns over traffic, parking and the lighting itself, the Village Board referred the plans to a joint meeting of the Plan Commission and Village Board on Feb. 18, which will be combined with a public hearing to give trustees and commissioners a chance to hear from nearby residents on Lydell and Bay Ridge avenues.

"I generally am supportive of the lights," said Village President Julie Siegel, "but I think we need to be very considerate of the neighbors."

Levy told the board that field lights would be helpful in a number of ways. Later start times would make it easier for volunteers and parents to avoid work conflicts. Multiple games each night would allow the league to schedule make-ups more easily and finish the season on time. Lighted fields would allow youth teams to stop bouncing around between available fields for practice. And the lighted fields could easily be used by other local teams, such as the Junior Dukes, after the Little League season.

"While we would be building and paying for the lights, it's a gift from the Whitefish Bay Little League," said Levy, "and a community asset."

Levy said Musco will have detailed data at the hearing.

"We'll have spill data for each neighborhood," said Levy, adding that with the light configuration, "we're trying to accommodate the neighbors."

Village Attorney Christopher Jaekels said the Village Board will have the authority to make the final decision on the project, potentially at the February meeting, since a board-approved ordinance will be needed to govern the presence and hours of the lighting.

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