March 22, 2016
By Christopher Sich
Fenwick High School wants to install lights and synthetic turf at the soccer field next to Dominican University Priory Campus at the corner of Harlem Avenue and Division Street.
The proposal is in its beginning stages, but Fenwick officials are beginning to gain traction.
“We met a couple weeks ago with the village, and have a meeting with the zoning committee sometime next month,” said Nancy Bufalino, Fenwick’s chief of operating officer. “The village has been very receptive.”
Fenwick wants the change because of the lack of daylight and poor field conditions during the beginning of the spring sports season. The Illinois High School Association allows outdoor practices to begin as early as March; Fenwick spring sports always begin practicing on March 1 if weather permits.
“A majority of the time the field is still frozen in spring,” said Dennis Marani, a member of Fenwick’s board of directors.
The addition of lights will extend the use of the field during the lower-daylight times in March and April, but also pose a potential distraction to neighbors.
“The lights would be all around the field, and we are making sure that light is projected solely on the field,” she said.
Although anyone who lives within 500 feet of the property needs to be notified about the proposal, Bufalino said, “we want to make sure we have everything set before notifying the neighbors.”
Some neighbors spoke out in favor of the plan after hearing about it.
“I am not aware of this, but I am not affected by it due to the fact that our rooms do not face the field,” said Tiffany whose last name did not want to be used. Tiffany lives across the street on the 7200 block of Division Street. “I am all for the addition of lights if it will benefit the high school student athletes. “
The final price for this proposal is also still up in the air, but will probably top $1 million, according to Bufalino. A key factor in the final price would be the size of, and amount of work required to install, the water retention drainage system under the field.
Fenwick officials are hoping to begin this project when the fall sports season ends in late October, and to have it completed by the spring 2017 athletic season.