Upper St. Clair discusses adding lights to ball fields

Published Jun 3, 2014 at 9:01 am (Updated Jun 3, 2014 at 9:01 am)

Discussion on lighting the athletic fields at Boyce Mayview Park began at the June 2 meeting of the Upper St. Clair Board of Commissioners.

George Kostelich, director of public works for Upper St. Clair, presented an overview of the proposed lighting and estimated the cost to be between $1,087,000 and $1,198,000.

“Please note these numbers are generous,” Kostelich said.

Board president Robert Orchowski stressed that the June 2 presentation was the first airing of the topic of lighting the fields. “Nothing in terms of deliberation has been done yet,” he said.

A committee was formed to discuss and recommend lighting for the fields. It was made up of township staff, Upper St. Clair Athletic Association (USCAA) members and representatives from Musco, a field lighting company.

The fields at Boyce Mayview Park that lights would be added to include the two multi-purpose fields, the large baseball field, the softball/small baseball field, the Miracle Field and possibly the Miracle Field playground. The multi-purpose fields would be lit to 50 foot candles with six lighting fixtures located around the perimeter of the field. The large baseball field would be lit to 70/50 foot candles, meaning 70 for the infield and 50 for the outfield. The field would have eight lighting fixtures around the perimeter. The softball/small baseball field would be lit to 50/30 foot candles, as would the Miracle Field. The softball/small baseball field would have four lighting fixtures while the Miracle Field would have two.

The proposed equipment would be Musco light structures in green and would have spill light and glare control features and a 25-year warranty. At the end of 5,000 hours, a re-lamp or bulb replacement would take place. The proposed lighting would also have a feature that would allow for off-site control of the lights by using a mobile device, computer or telephone.

Installing lights at the multi-purpose field would be the most costly at $500,000 to $550,000, while the large baseball field is estimated to be between $385,000 and $425,000. Estimates for the softball/baseball field are between $120,000 and $135,000, the Miracle Field at $42,000 to $46,000 and the Miracle Field playground between $12,000 and $14,000. An additional $28,000 would be needed to cover engineering costs.

Kostelich also discussed potential funding for the project. Currently, there is $385,000 in the field improvements fund and another $130,000 to $150,000 in the capital fund. The USCAA has proposed an increase in its registration fee of $5, bringing the fee to $15, which will bring in an additional $9,500. The township could also apply for grants through the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County and the Allegheny Regional Asset District to fund a portion of the project.

Musco did the lighting at the Boyce Middle School field.

Commissioner Daniel Paoly asked Kostelich how tall the light poles would be at the park. Kostelich said the average height would be about 80 feet with the tallest at 100 feet and the shortest at 60 feet.

Commissioner Russell Del Re said of the lighting, “It’s about the ability to use the field efficiently. I really believe this would be a good step for the township to take.”

Del Re said that in the last 20 years, “We’ve gained several more facilities and we still have a demand for more.”

Commissioner Glenn Dandoy asked if the school district had committed to helping with the project financially. Kostelich said that no, it has not, but they would realize the benefit of the lighted fields.

Dandoy asked if there was a way to involve the school district. Kostelich said that with the database that the lights are connected to, it would enable the township to precisely charge for the use of the lights.

Additionally, the lights would have a feature where the township could set the off time for them.

Tom Burke, a member of the USCAA, said currently there is a 10 p.m. curfew, so the lights could go off at that time. He added that the lights would be helpful because volunteer coaches are often working parents who cannot get to the field until later in the day. Burke said the school district does allow the USCAA to use the Boyce Middle School field, but often the only open time is at 9 p.m., which he said is too late for the younger athletes.

“It is open, but not conducive,” he said of the middle school field. Of the project at the park, Burke said, “We think this is an important one.”

The township sent out letters to residents living near Boyce Mayview Park letting them know of the proposed lighting.

John Palmer lives on Sky Ridge Drive in Upper St. Clair and said he received the letter last week and it was the first he heard about the consideration of lighting at the field. He said he has perceived that the fields at the park do not receive much use. “It’s unusual we would have to light them to get them used,” he said. “As someone who is right next to the park, I’m concerned about my back yard lit up when there’s nobody using the field.”

He said he also drives by Morton Park and the field lights are often on while no one is there.

Resident Michael Pechart also lives on Sky Ridge Drive and said he sees a lot of empty ball fields at the park. He said he is concerned about spill-over lighting in his backyard because it touches the park.

Pechart said he is also concerned with noise, stating that the lights at Morton Park “sound like beehives.” He said he would not want to hear that humming sound in his backyard. He added that he also has concerns with increased traffic on Sky Ridge Drive.

“This is the first step,” stressed Orchowski.

The board will continue discussing the proposed lighting at its July 7 meeting.

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