Turf, track almost ready; lights could be next 1

Butler Field was back in action this spring following the installation of a new artificial turf.

While differing opinions remain on whether to install lights at Butler Field, another group came forward to voice its support. The Advisory Council on Parks and Recreation, a committee linked to the village, voted unanimously at its most recent committee meeting to support the project.

Chairman Lou Vetrone said the committee discussed the lights from its own perspective and looked at the impact on the community as a whole.

“There are several reasons why we took a vote to support the program,” Vetrone said. “Over the past few years with the proliferation of youth sports programs, there’s a lot of challenges with scheduling games and practices on the field.”

That, coupled with the recent rainy weather pattern the village has been experiencing, convinced some segments of the community that the lights were worth looking into as a way to resolve those issues.

“The past several years had increased cancellation of practice and games because of the weather,” Vetrone said. “A few spring varsity teams didn’t even get to practice outside … before their first games.”

Though the committee acknowledged installing lights at Butler Field probably won’t solve all problems, it’s a first step in making a difference.

Committee member Larry Medvinsky said having the lights will help all the sports teams — both village-sponsored and school teams have more options for practice and game times.

“I don’t think any of us want our students out there at all hours of the night, but it’ll also help the independent sports organizations,” Medvinsky said. “We want to give precedent to the varsity teams, but it’ll have a trickle-down effect.”

It also would allow the other fields, according to Vetrone, to “rest” and not get overused.

“Fields are stressed because of year-round sports and the weather,” Vetrone said. “[The lights] will help alleviate the use of the fields.”

Medvinsky said the current situation with the use of diesel-powered lights is “horrible,” due to the noise and smoke the units emit.

With the proposed LED lighting, “the noise factor will be greatly reduced,” he said.

Another reason for the committee’s support, according to Vetrone, is that the lights will benefit student athletes and with such a large number of students who participate in school athletics, more playing options will enhance the sense of community in Scarsdale.

“We have a vibrant community that likes to play sports,” Medvinsky said.

Vetrone followed up by saying students look forward to rooting for their classmates and school. Turning out for sporting events is a safe activity that provides lasting memories for teens and other families.

“It’s not just the students, it’s the whole community,” Vetrone said. “The games become community events [that] bring the village together [and] add to the fabric of the community and to Scarsdale.”

In addition to installing permanent lights, the board of trustees and the Advisory Council on Parks and Recreation also talked about other long-term solutions.

One that’s been brought up before was building an additional turf field.

Having another turf field would alleviate scheduling conflicts, as well as be helpful in times of rainy weather.

But, that’s currently not an option on the table.

Last month the Scarsdale Board of Education approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that gave Maroon & White the green light to begin fundraising for the cost of the project, in addition to giving the athletics booster organization the thumbs up for its most recent donor recognition plan.

The proposed project includes four 80-foot-high light posts with LED lights that would extend the field’s usage times.

Since the school district doesn’t own the land Butler Field stands on, the project requires joint approval from the village.

Butler Field was closed down suddenly late last summer and a new turf carpet was installed in the fall and winter in time for use this spring. Work was also done to replace the track — a new surface is expected to be poured this summer over the new blacktop that is currently in place.

Concerns brought up by residents since the project was first proposed include noise, light pollution and traffic. The school athletic department is putting together a document, with community input, outlining guidelines for the use of the lights, should the project move forward.

The guidelines include starting night games by 7 p.m., scheduling no more than 15 regular season night games each year with four additional allowances for playoff games, permitting up to 10 community events for soccer, football and lacrosse throughout the year, with Sunday to Thursday events over by 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday events to end by 9 p.m. and “amplified sound” would be used at any event during the 30 minutes prior to each game for warm-ups, pre-game announcements, the National Anthem and “game-time” announcements.

The work session, which was held to hear the Advisory Council on Parks and Recreation’s statement, included members of the board of trustees, but it did not reflect the opinion of the board.

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