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Field lighting variance decision for sports complex held until November

Don Rhuda, of Musco Lighting Company, explains the proposed 70-foot field lighting for the Victory Sports Medicine athletic complex at the Oct. 16 Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing. VSM owner Dr. Marc P. Pietropaoli, seated behind podium, listens.

Don Rhuda, of Musco Lighting Company, explains the proposed 70-foot field lighting for the Victory Sports Medicine athletic complex at the Oct. 16 Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing. VSM owner Dr. Marc P. Pietropaoli, seated behind podium, listens. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— Rhuda said field lights at 20 feet tall basically spray light forward and outward in order to illuminate the field, which creates light “spillage” in all directions and therefore would be more visible to neighbors. The 70-foot lights, by contrast, are so tall as to aim the lights downward onto the field. They also have hoods on the light bulbs that focus and direct the light downward, minimizing light spillage off the field.

“We’re creating a ring of darkness around a facility,” Rhuda said.

Rhuda used a Powerpoint presentation to show examples of athletic fields with and without the 70-foot lighting, which he used to demonstrate the focused angle of the taller poles and the reduced light spillage they create. From a distance, the lights look like small orbs in the sky rather than a large general glow, the Powerpoint photographs were used to demonstrate.

Rhuda said that regionally there are three athletic fields that have 70-foot lighting and he encouraged concerned and curious residents to go visit them in person and see what they look like: Fenner Field in Cazenovia, and the fields at Auburn and Cortland High schools.

VSM attorney John Langey also made a brief presentation to the board urging approval of the variance. He said there would be “clearly no” impact from the lighting on the complex neighbors, and that the “benefit to the applicant clearly outweighs any detriment to the neighborhood, and in fact there are no detriments to the neighborhood.”

The planned hours of operation for the facility run until 11 p.m., at which time the field lights would be turned off.

In response to questions by ZBA members, Rhuda said the field lights will be controlled by a computer program to shut off at 11 p.m. He said the 17 poles would contain a total of 236 light bulbs, each bulb of 1,500 watts. He said each of the 17 poles also will have LED security lighting at the 20-foot height, which will allow visitors to return safely to their cars after 11 p.m. and for security.

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