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Little League Proposes to Light its Fields

Little league officials plan to meet with concerned residents to discuss the additional lighting, which they say is needed to accomodate a growing program and a tight season.

Whitefish Bay Little League is requesting village permission to install stadium lighting on two baseball diamonds to accomodate the growth the program has seen in recent years.

The Whitefish Bay Little League is seeing a growing number of kids in the current divisions, and this year, the organization added a Challenger Division for kids with special needs. To accomodate the growth and the tight little league timetable, the group went before the Village Board Monday requesting lights on two of the three baseball diamonds at Craig Counsell Field.

The league has a tight schedule that plays nearly every day from April 24 through July 13. In the event of a rainout, the league has to schedule make-up games, which results in weekday double-header games that start at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. In order to get in 45 minutes of batting practice before the first game, it requires coaches and players to be at the field by 3:45 p.m. on weekday nights – which is difficult for working parents.

"Every coach is a volunteer and it is tough to leave work early to pitch batting practice for a 4:30 game," said Whitefish Bay Little League President Josh Levy. "I'm sure the parent and grandparent spectators prefer a later start time too."  

With the additional lighting in place, the league would be able to have double-header games start at 6 p.m. and another game start at 8 p.m. and finish by 10 p.m. Although these times are not set in stone, Levy said 10 p.m. does not sound unreasonable, since that's when the Cahill lights go off in the summer.

"The number of fields cannot grow and we do not think the neighbors or our league families want an extended season," Levy said. "The plan in no means calls for night games every day of the season."

Additionally, Levy said the new lighting would create a safer playing field for currently-scheduled games, which end at 8 p.m.

"On a cloudy evening in April or May, it can get pretty hard to see at 8 p.m.," Levy said.

After hearing the proposal, the Whitefish Bay Village Board scheduled a joint Plan Commission and Village Board public hearing about the project for Feb. 18.

In advance of the meeting, little league leaders will be inviting neighboring residents to a community meeting to hear their concerns about the project. Levy said the details of the project will only be finalized after meeting with residents and hearing their concerns.

"We want to work with the neighbors so this project balances all interests," Levy said. 

The lighting proposal has already drawn concern from neighboring residents like Maressa Kane, who lives on Lydell Avenue, just south of the parking lot. She says she hopes her child will play little league when they are old enough, but the traffic congestion that the little league has brought to her neighborhood has become too much to bear in recent years.

This past summer, there were times Kane couldn't get out of her own driveway because the street was so clogged. Another time, a little league parent actually parked in her family's private driveway.

"Once the lights go in, it will only exacerbate those existing issues," Kane said. "The little league has been successful for many years, and it will continue to thrive without lights. We can't say the same for our neighborhood, where we could see a negative financial impact on our home values."

Chris Anderson January 26, 2013 at 12:54 AM
I don't live on Lydell nor have any kids in Little league. I'm going with .. adding lights is fine. Look, people on Lydell are screwed from April 24-July 13, about 80 days. During those 80 days, that inconvenience ends at sunset, around 830pm. Now it'll end at 10pm. They'll still have to deal with all the cars when they come home from work, and on the weekend days .. with lights, they'll just put up with it for another 90 minutes at night for those 80 days. Yeah, their annoyance level is X, and it's going to X plus, let's say 10% more. I imagine all the Lydell homes will be unhappy with this extra 10%. Meanwhile there's some public good to be had, and if the little league people want to finance that, ok.
A WFB Resident January 26, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Well this is going to get interesting, considering the JCC was denied a water park because neighbors didn't want to hear kids laughing and splashing in the pool and the lighting restriction and traffic restriction put on the JCC due increase traffic and I will quote one neighbor stating they didn't want car lights shining in their windows and the extra extended hours they asked for events with caps on the number of people allowed.. right next door to the baseball field. YUP, folks this is going to get interesting.
Mike Hunterz January 26, 2013 at 02:25 AM
This is a waste. Go ahead and ruin the already shortened quiet enjoyment of these poor neighbors. Who thinks of these things?
Barb January 26, 2013 at 04:20 AM
Actually Chris, if lights go in that means they will be on until Labor Day according to the Little League's proposal and they could stay on even beyond that with the possibility of Fall Ball, tournaments, whatever they want. Instead of putting lights in perhaps the Little League should use the money to create a different entry way and parking lot on the other side of the fields near the JCC service drive if they are really concerned about the residents who live in the neighborhood.
Mike Hunterz January 26, 2013 at 01:05 PM
That is a great idea Barb
Lydell Resident January 26, 2013 at 04:32 PM
80 days...90 minutes...it's obvious you don't have little children. Actually, the league says it will be from Memorial day to Labor day with the new lights (or the entirety of the summer). So, lets see, we residents get to ENJOY non-existent parking (for any summer parties we might have), drivers tearing up our little dead-end street at 40 MPH (endangering residents), the 20+ kids in the neighborhood who will be in danger when they play outside (riding bikes or skateboards), the neighbors we know that use their bikes as alternate forms of transit, and general increased crowds of people coming and going on our street. The village board needs to take this seriously and protect the safety of its citizens on Lydell Avenue. The lights are not a gift to us.
Lydell Resident January 26, 2013 at 05:56 PM
We have lived on Lydell for ten years. Our family has been a part of the little league for 9 of those ten years. We supported financially, gave countless hours and years of coaching to this organization. We have made many priceless memories there with our boys and even have a memorial "brick" dedicated to our daughter who passed away in June of 2007. With all that, we put up with the countless weekends and weeknights of being on "high alert" for the safety of our children. The congested street and speeding cars are exhausting... but we knew and looked forward to when it all would end in mid July. If the lights go up, the rest of our summer will be just as stressful and dangerous as the first half. The WFB Little League does not have the right to take away what little peace we get to enjoy each summer. The Village Board needs to hear us and act on what is the safe, responsible and right thing to do.... not allow lights to go up. All people involved in making this decision get to spend time in their neighborhoods all summer long,watching their kids ride bikes, skate or play tag into the night. We simply want our end of July, August and September to be that way too.
Lisa January 26, 2013 at 07:08 PM
My family has lived on Lydell for 18 years and we honestly would not have purchased the house if we knew about the baseball congestion. It truly is an inconvenience that one has to experience in order to appreciate. I agree with Barb - create alternate parking to reduce traffic on Lydell. No other park has only one street entrance - Cahill is able to distribute traffic on bordering streets. The two way traffic insanity on Lydell is a risk to the safety of our kids and unfair burden to the residents.
iforgited January 26, 2013 at 07:29 PM
We have lived on Lydell Ave for 5 years, and we agree with Lisa, we would not have purchased this home had we know about all the baseball traffic, parking and noise issues. This is completely devastating news and will only make things worse. These lights will be a public nuisance and be an unfair burden placed on residents of Lydell Ave. I personally see my wife and I losing the ability to go to sleep at a decent hour with all the additional late night light, traffic, loading of cars and additional noise. The development at Craig Counsell Park as gone far enough. What the Little League needs to spend time on money on is developing an alternate parking plan to alleviate the burden on residents. Could they rent parking from the JCC or the small offices located on Port Washington Road? Expand the parking lot at the fields to the small soccer fields that are not used often? The traffic burden placed on Lydell Ave way beyond its designed capacity and only creates an extremely dangerous situation for everyone involved. The village board needs to be reasonable on this, the little league has created a wonderful facility for families to spend time together, but enough is enough.
Concerned resident January 26, 2013 at 07:59 PM
I hope the Village Board listens to the concerns of the residents on Lydell and does not approve the lights. Instead they need to address the already dangerous traffic and safety issues on the street. But at this point I am not sure I have much faith in that given the fact that the Village Board has a trustee whose family is directly involved on the Little League Board. In an act of good conscience, this trustee should not vote on this issue. Please do the right thing.
jimmy dean January 26, 2013 at 08:04 PM
no more lights! i want my summer nights!!!!!!!!
concerned grandma January 26, 2013 at 08:42 PM
My grandchildren live on Lydell ave. and I attend many of their baseball games. I love seeing them play. What I dread is the crazy street situation I get every time I am there. My daughter has to help me exit her driveway since many times I was almost hit by an SUV or inconsiderate drivers. My grandchildren and their safety are being put at risk and that makes me very angry. To have lights put in would only lengthen the time my daughters' family has to deal with this. She already delays family functions to late july/ august so we all can have a place to park. My point in writing is this, the Village Board needs to understand each house has a family and extended family that comes to that street. Our safety, inconvenience and frustration affects each grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle and cousin that visits their family on Lydell. Please say NO to the lights and us 'elderly guests' will have many more safe summer months/nights to visit our families who live on Lydell. Thank you and I will pray you all make the right decision.
Harry January 27, 2013 at 12:54 AM
I'm tired of these baseball fanatics ruining this place. The WFBLL board needs to think this through.
Oliver Clossoff January 27, 2013 at 12:56 AM
I can't stand baseball. I want all-night horse riding at Cahill
Barry Malogginer January 27, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I would move if I were you.
Been there done that January 27, 2013 at 09:37 AM
I really feel all these activities for young children is crazy. Do we really need 6 year olds playing ball? What happened to kids being kids? Maybe they should cut back on some of these leagues so the residents can have peace. Do we really need to have games 6 days a week? No wonder kids get burned out of sports and all these activities. They have no time to sit back and relax and enjoy little things in life with their whole lives scheduled and pressured to compete at young ages in several sports.
Adolf Oliver Bush January 27, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Sell your house in the off-season.
Chris Anderson January 27, 2013 at 04:09 PM
What's interesting is .. if I had to lay odds, I'd say it's 30/70 that the Village Board approves the lights, likely it'll be denied. But if the JCC owned the park, it would be 90/10 the Village Board approve. The Board showed their disregard for JCC neighbors last year.
Linda January 27, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I have lived a block from the baseball park for 20 years, and have watched the growth over the years. When the 3 fields went in, our neighborhood was assured that there would never be more than 2 games played at any time, so that traffic/parking would not become an issue. That assurance was never honored, and as all the other posts attest, it is a nightmare during baseball season. If Little League could not honor that simple 2 game assurance, I am sure that once they get their lighting in, games will go longer, they will do nothing about the horrible parking situation, they will extend their season with other leagues, expand their concessions (alcohol?) and who knows what else.... Nobody has controlled/enforced them in the past, how can we expect them to be controlled in the future?
Elaine Gehring January 30, 2013 at 01:04 PM
The current traffic situation up and down Lydell Avenue on Little League game or practice evenings is already an "accident waiting to happen". The amount of traffic traveling on the street as well as the vehicles parked along every inch of curb (many parked illegally close to driveways) create many dangerous situations, which is especially alarming with the number of ballplayers and other children walking and crossing the street. To increase these dangerous conditions by extending the activities at the ballpark into the evening hours and darkness seems ludicrous. It is the responsibility of the Village Board to consider the safety of our youth and citizens in making any decision, and the scheduling needs of Little League can't be allowed to "trump" this safety concern.
Concerned resident January 30, 2013 at 09:52 PM
The Little League Board told the Patch that they are planning to meet us to hear our concerns - but has yet to tell us this or schedule a meeting. If they were really concerned, they should have met with residents BEFORE presenting their plan to the Village Board. Their actions thus far have not been in our interest at all.
CowDung January 30, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Playing baseball means that a 6 year old isn't being a kid? Granted it's been a few years, but I seem to recall that playing and having fun was a huge part of being a kid... ...and I'm 99.9% positive that none of the 6 year old kids in Little League are being asked to play baseball 6 days a week.
CowDung January 30, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Consider if having lights will mean that they are able to schedule more games in an evening, and therefore have games on fewer days of the week. Wouldn't that actually decrease the number of days of the 'inconvenience'?
TPS January 31, 2013 at 12:23 AM
@Dung: Right, they want to spend $50-$70k for fancy lights so they can "decrease" the amount of baseball played? Here's a quote from the NOW article, "...the lighted fields could easily be used by other local teams, such as the Junior Dukes, after the Little League season." Not buying that argument. http://www.whitefishbaynow.com/news/proposal-sheds-some-light-on-counsell-field-nighttime-usage-in-whitefish-bay-mu8fnch-188066171.html
CowDung January 31, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Reread what I wrote. The amount of baseball played is not reduced. With lights they can play the same number of games in fewer days.
Been there done that January 31, 2013 at 02:50 AM
All I meant is that times have changed. When I was a kid you maybe played t ball, Cub Scout softball at 6-7, then little league at 8. We had half day kindergarten and no 4k. Kindergarten was play time and some simple learning. My 5 year old is wiped out after school, and learning what we did in 1st grade. I just feel that kids should have a little more freedom rather than all this structure and the stress of performing and competition. And when they get a little older you add these traveling teams, it's ridiculous. I'm for sports and see the benefit of it. However maybe if we channeled a little of the energy of playing sports, and for boys becoming interested in spectating professional sports, towards academics and figuring out what you want to be when you grow up, the kids would be better off.
TPS January 31, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Reread what I wrote. Lights would allow for use by other local teams, such as Junior Dukes, after the little league season. Thus increasing the number of days of the "inconvenience."
CowDung January 31, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Do you think that 'channeling energy toward academics and figuring out what you want to be when you grow up' is really' having 'kids be kids'? I guess I didn't see it as too much of a time commitment to have my kids play baseball--a couple days a week hardly sounds like an overwhelming amount of structured activity. They played T-Ball and coach pitch when they were 5-6 (not Little League). They started Little League and played machine pitch baseball when they were 7-8 (grade 1 and 2). At that level, the season starts in June so there really isn't much overlap with school. Don't you think it's OK to replace the structure they had with their schoolday routine with some structured activities? My kids look forward to game days, and often play sports with each other when they go outside to play. Personally, I'd rather see them playing baseball and soccer and having fun with sports than sitting on the couch playing the hours of video games that many kids do these days...

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