At last night's Westfield Board of Education meeting, members of the board voted to approve the Westfield Soccer Association's request to illuminate Kehler Stadium with temporary lights for the months of March and April.
|WBOE Brendan Galligan|
Galligan stated that the Westfield Soccer Association will comply with height restrictions of the portable generator driven lights. When pressed for what restrictions he was referring to, Galligan could not answer and deferred to Westfield Soccer Association trustee Peter Franks to answer the question.
Peter Franks stated that the height of the lights would not exceed the height that they were at in 2015. When asked what height he was referring to, Franks stated "About 22 feet." Note: In 2015 the lights were measured at a height of 25 feet by TFoTM.
|WSA Trustee Peter Franks|
(Photo credit: TAPinto Westfield)
Franks admitted that the higher the lights are positioned, they can be pointed down and would cause less spillage of light into the neighborhood. He continued by stating that the lower the lights are positioned, it would cause them to be pointed straight out which would cause the adjacent neighborhood to be lit up. At no time did either BOE Facilities Committee chairman Brendan Galligan or Peter Franks acknowledge Westfield Town Code Ordinance 16-28a, restricting the height of the lights at 15 feet.
WBOE President Gretchen Ohlig was asked if a professional engineering report was provided by the Westfield Soccer Association regarding light spillage into neighboring yards from the portable lighting to which she answered, "No." Ohlig also announced that members of the board of education will not be on site at Kehler Stadium to address neighborhood complaints, during the time the lights are in operation, as they were in 2015. She stated that the WSA will have a contact number and that WSA trustee Peter Franks will field all calls. TFoTM suggests that this is no different than the fox guarding the hen house.
The WBOE continues to charge Westfield elementary, middle school, and high school students a participation fee between $60 and $125 a year to partake in a sport, club, drama production, band, chorus, and other after school activities but continue to allow a private business (Westfield Soccer Association) to utilize BOE fields free of charge and on the backs of the Westfield taxpayer.
It's been 2 years since a request was made by TFoTM, to the WBOE, to consider a user fee for private entities to pay when using the fields to offset the costs incurred by the BOE/taxpayer to maintain the fields. As of last night's meeting, WBOE president Gretchen Ohlig has not presented a plan.
The Westfield Soccer Association lists twenty one fields on their website that they use for their soccer activities......14 of those fields are in Westfield. Of the 14 fields in Westfield, 5 are owned by the town of Westfield and 9 are owned by the Board of Education.
The town of Westfield requires a $10 fee for each player of the WSA to use a town own field. This one time fee is assessed to Westfield Soccer Association members through a registration fee.
As of last year, the Westfield soccer association website listed this fee at $15 on it's registration page, $5 more than the what town ordinance mandates. That disclaimer has since been deleted.
With approximately 2600 soccer association members, the town of Westfield would have collected approximately $26,000. However, the soccer association took in $39,000, netting them a profit of $13,000. It appears that the WSA has lumped the field usage fee into its registration fees.
Nontheless, residents in the neighborhood surrounding Kehler Stadium will be subjected to the fumes, noise, and light generated from the diesel powered portable lights in addition to the eyesore created when the WSA erects a mesh barrier attached to the visitor side of the field bleachers and fence in an attempt to shield the Westfield Ave. neighborhood from the intrusive lights.