WESTFIELD, NJ – Westfield Board of Education President Richard Mattessich shared the facilities committee's results of the Kehler Stadium spring 2015 lighting pilot program during Tuesday night’s meeting.
The 10-week pilot ran from March 23 to May 31 to gauge resources needed, time allotment and community feedback, according to Mattessich. The lights were used during late practices for 20 nights during the period, he said.
A total 94 emails with comments were sent to the board of education during the pilot by 18 homes, Mattessich said. The nature of these comments was primarily about the lights themselves, he said, but also mentioned the noise and smell from generators.
The board of education ran into unexpected problems during the pilot, including a false complaint, an ultimately dismissed lawsuit, allegations of conspiracy and public concern for the lights' permanence, according to Mattessich. (Complaints against the Westfield Board of Education by Westfield resident Greg Kasko regarding the lights were dismissed by a judge in May.)
Some of the factors considered when evaluating the lighting test involved those benefitted and legal matters. Little to no benefit by high school teams was observed, Mattessich said. However, he noted, practice times for Westfield Soccer Association and the YMCA Flyers Track team were able to last longer.
While the sound of the generators and the lighting itself did not violate any legal sound limits, neighbors complained of the use into evening hours, Mattessich shared.
The WSA attempted to mitigate these problems during the pilot by adding mesh to fences to reduce light spillage and seeking a muffler system for the obtrusive noise, he said.
Public comments made during the meeting were made by residents living immediately around Kehler Stadium, who said that the late night activities resulted in foul play being conducted late at night. Neighbors also voiced their worries about the ineffectiveness of the mesh and excessive noise on Sunday mornings.
In the end, the facilities committee concluded that the pilot was beneficial and made recommendations on use of lights in the future, Mattessich said.
Mattessich suggested that any request for temporary lighting be made six weeks before the proposed date and be limited to March and April. He also recommended the installation of surveillance cameras to deter vandalism and for the prohibition on night games by user groups to be continued, except for special circumstances permitted by the athletic director, such as post-season play.