Little League seeking (lighted) field of dreams

Little League seeking (lighted) field of dreams

Michele Ellson
Alameda Little League

Image courtesy of the Alameda Unified School District.

Schools leaders are seeking the public’s input on a plan to illuminate one of a pair of baseball diamonds at Will C. Wood Middle School.

The public is being asked for their thoughts on a plan to install four light poles over what’s known to Alameda Little League families as the Minor field in order to extend play later into the evening. A public comment period on the plan opens Thursday, and a public hearing on it will be held on September 23.

The school board is expected to consider approving the project, which Alameda Little League is funding, on October 14.

Alameda Little League president Ron Matthews said the additional field time is needed to accommodate the league’s explosive growth. Matthews said the program serves 1,000 Alameda youths ages 4 to 12 and is set to add a Challenger program for children with special needs.

“With such growth there is a huge need for fields in Alameda, which we have, of course, exceeded,” Matthews said Tuesday. “Night games are just one way to spread out the need for fields, practices, and games.”

Alameda Unified’s chief business officer, Robert Clark, told the school board on Tuesday night that the poles to be installed will focus light downward onto the baseball field, and not into nearby homes.

“The days of giant lights on poles that light up the sky and the neighborhood are gone,” Clark said.

An initial study of potential environmental impacts of the lighting project found that the amount of light the fixtures would cast on homes would be less than significant. It said the district and Little League were only considering the lights on one of the four fields at Wood and Rittler Park – an interior field near the school – because the other fields are too close to homes.

The lighting would allow the league to play games until 10 p.m., and Clark said the league anticipates playing until 9:30 p.m. five to six days a week during the season, which takes place from January to June, and then for post-game play in July.

Matthews told board members the lights would be most useful in March and April, before daylight savings time kicks in and natural light is available later into the evening.

“In California since there’s good weather, we can play until March and April. But it’s dark,” Matthews said. “And all of a sudden – it’s starting to get dark at six.”

Board member Trish Herrera Spencer questioned whether the additional hours of field availability could impact parking for Wood Middle School and neighbors. During an evening in May when games were being played, about 70 percent of the parking in the area was in use, the study found, and Matthews said he thinks the games will generate about two dozen cars each.

The lighting project is expected to cost $70,000 and if approved by the school board, will be installed by MUSCO Lighting, the firm that also installed lighting on the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Construction would take place next winter to prepare the field for Little League’s 2015 season.

Comments can be directed to Clark at the district office, 2060 Challenger Drive, Alameda, Calif., 94501 through October 1. The study and a presentation on the proposal are available on the school district’s website.

Comments

Submitted by Luzanne Engh (not verified) on Wed, Aug 27, 2014

Has there been any discussion about Alameda youths, ages 4-12, playing ball until 9:30 pm? This doesn't seem like the best solution to finding more space for the program to grow.

Submitted by Keith L. (not verified) on Thu, Sep 11, 2014

This is outrageous, we live behind the track field and have complained about early soccer games starting at 7am on weekends at Wood track field, they are supposed to start at 9am according to the schools lease. There has been over amplified music and announcements from the little league field also and it is very loud as this an open area, We have lived here for over 5 years and enjoy it but the noise has gotten overbearing. The one thing 8am - 3pm M-F but do we ever get some peace or respect from these sports leagues no.

Its not that I am against what they are doing for the kids, but it is for league's profit. They don't have live here and pay the now outrageous Rents for this type of noise and disrespect as most probably don't live around shoreline. we cant afford to move, and added lighting and extended hours will further decrease our quality of living. some of these people way exceed the standard of noise that is supposed to acceptable for a quiet neighborhood. This is kids sports not Major league, Why don't you ask the City to build you a sports complex away form our homes.

Submitted by BrianDL. on Kit... (not verified) on Tue, Oct 14, 2014

I agree with Keith L. on all sentiments. We have called the Alameda Police non-emergency line many times, to many to count for noise complaints at night by the lighted basketball courts. Alameda is family friendly but there definitely needs to be some limits set.

I try not to give anyone the stink eye when they block our driveways during the day with their cars but now there is a chance this will happen at night as well, you can only take so much!