For many the twilight and evening hours are special – a time to relax, unwind, draw closer to loved ones and friends, measure thoughts against the gathering night. But for hundreds of households in the vicinity of Watertown’s Victory Field, ours among them, such simple pleasures have become more elusive in recent years due to the nightly incursion of distressingly bright glare from the lights on the field.
Sports have been played under the lights at Victory Field since the days of the old Watertown Twilight Baseball League back in the 1930s and for most of the 80 years since with little if any neighborhood disturbance or injury. But in 2011-12 the Phase One renovation of the baseball and football field introduced lighting of a much greater magnitude on 80 foot poles that so altered and affected our daily lives and routines it soon became a constant source of community ire and outcry. And from which there is no respite since they are left blazing every evening until 10:15 or 10:30 p.m. most of the year REGARDLESS of whether there is a game to light on the field.
Now plans for the Phase Two reconstruction of the soccer field threaten more of the same – a greater number of taller and inordinately powerful lights on massive poles to be left on regardless. The High School’s application to use the field for evening games – which would oblige new lighting – seems to have become a pretext for lighting the field EVERY night until 9 p.m.
While the school’s desire is reasonable enough, especially with the later starting of the school day, I can’t help but wonder just how necessary the kind of heavy-handed and overbearing Phase One lighting is for a successful athletics program. Over the years my wife and I have attended night games here – in the days of the former concrete bleachers – and at various school fields in other towns that were happily played and enjoyed without requiring the level of brightness and intensity in the lighting that would be invasive and annoying to the community.
But most of all we are disturbed and ashamed by the wastefulness of leaving the lights on nightly whether or not there is a real need for them. Such a practice serves no purpose other than advertising the fields – which is being done at the expense both of the taxpayers of Watertown who must foot the electricity bills, and of the comfort and well-being of those of us who live in the immediate vicinity.
The lighting we object to is not there by chance. It was specifically selected, constructed and is operated in response to the request of certain interested parties. Now as equally interested parties we respectfully request of the appropriate administrative bodies of Watertown a response to our concerns. We ask that all Victory Field lighting – both at the soccer field AND the baseball and football fields – be TURNED OFF when there is not a permitted game or practice going on. This would go far toward restoring the confidence of the community. And if this is done – since the Recreation Department has pledged not to allow evening use of the soccer field by other than Watertown-based or -oriented organizations – there should be minimal additional hardship from the Phase Two renovations for those of us who live here.
Please let us have our night back when you don’t need it.
Channing Road, Watertown