Victory Field Committee Debates Lighting at Track, Touches on Football Field

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On aerial view of Victory Field.

On aerial view of Victory Field. Lights on 80 foot poles will be put in the corners of the track, and a new set of lights will be put around the tennis and basketball courts on 40-foot poles.

A new set of lights will be erected to light the track oval at Victory Field, and the Town Council will look at dampening the impact of lights on the football and baseball side of the complex.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Victory Field Phase 2 weighed in on how to light Victory Field on Tuesday night, but several residents were concerned about the lights put up during Phase 1.

The lights at the track oval will be on four, 80-foot poles and will have LED lights with covers that will focus the light on the field and reduce the amount of light shining directly into homes.

The intensity of the lights will be adjustable depending on what the field is being used for. The maximum brightness will be 30-foot-candles, which is the level recommended for a high school soccer or lacrosse game. They can be reduced to 50 percent power (15 foot candle) for practices or other uses, or to 25 percent (7.5 foot candles) for people walking around the track.

The group voted 8-1 for having the four, 80-foot poles located outside the track. The “no” vote came from abutter and committee member Elodia Thomas. She said she and neighbors have been fed up with what is going on with the football field lights for the past several years, and wanted to figure that out before deciding how to deal with the track lights.

“The football and baseball lights are on all the time and you have them full blast,” Thomas said. “We have been ignored for six years. I have also gotten calls from people at Casey Park about their lights.”

The lights impact residents who are not immediate abutters, too. One resident said it is not just Orchard Street, but the streets coming off it: Channing Road, Bradford Road and Standish Road. Another resident who lives on the other side of the Department of Public Works Facility said she gets light from the field coming into her home.

Town Council President Mark Sideris, who attended the meeting, said that the football/baseball area is not part of the current Victory Field Committee’s charge, but he would bring it up at the next Town Council meeting.

“On Tuesday, I will refer to the appropriate committee the issue of how the lights are used for Victory Field Phase 1,” Sideris said. “We can let (this) committee deal with Phase 2 and deal with Phase 1 at the Council level.”

The Victory Field Committee also discussed practices for using the lights, including when they would be shut off and how bright they would be for each activity. The group decided that on a normal night the lights would be off at 9 p.m., with exceptions for games that go past 9 p.m. If it is a high school or youth sports game, the lights would be on at 30-foot-candle – 100 percent – while it would be at 50 percent for general use of the field.

The Committee debated when the lights should be left on at night. Watertown High School Athletic Director said that high school teams use the track area from September to mid-November and from mid-March to early June. Some suggested having the lights off in the winter and summer, unless the field has been reserved. Others said they want to leave the lights on so that the field could be used for casual use such as kicking a soccer ball or throwing a frisbee. No recommendation was voted upon.

The group discussed having dimmer lights on for people walking around the track would stay on until 10 p.m. but did not vote on it. How to handle lighting for the track area will be left until the lights are in and the committee can see how they work.

The lights around the tennis courts and basketball court will also be updated, but will be put on a pushbutton system so that the will not be on all the time. There will be eight, 40-foot light poles with three different zones for the tennis courts so only the courts being used are lit.

The lighting company, Musco, had a demonstration of the lights in September to show how the new lights work.

“I thought it was impressive. It really cut the light off so it doesn’t spill off on to adjacent properties,” said Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon, who is on the Victory Field Committee.

They will have push buttons to turn on the lights for a set amount of time, and all the lights will go off at 10 p.m. The lights can be on for intervals of 30 minutes, an hour or 75 minutes. The committee did not decide on what length of time should be chosen.

New lights for the driveway area will be installed. Right now there is a set of lights on the utility poles, but the committee wants to remove the poles. The committee would like to use more decorative lights, perhaps similar to those on Main Street and Mt. Auburn Street, for the parking lot area and driveway.

The next meeting of the Victory Field Committee will be held on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Lower Hearing Room of Town Hall.

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