Lights at Vil­lanova sta­dium spark com­plaints

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Stein lstein@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @lstein­re­porter

RADNOR >> The Radnor Town­ship man­ager, com­mu­nity devel­op­ment of­fi­cial and so­lic­i­tor promised to craft a new or­di­nance to deal with light pol­lu­tion for the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers to con­sider.

This came at the Oct. 8 meet­ing, af­ter Ward 7 Com­mis­sioner Sean Farhy and sev­eral res­i­dents com­plained about light glar­ing into homes from the Vil­lanova sta­dium.

Farhy said that many res­i­dents of the Old Oaks sec­tion of the town­ship have com­plained to him about the sta­dium lights.

“They feel the lights are too bright, stay on too late and come on too early,” said Farhy.

Farhy pointed to a 2012 email from Chris Ko­vol­ski, Vil­lanova as­sis­tant vice pres­i­dent for gov­ern­ment re­la­tions and ex­ter­nal af­fairs, apol­o­giz­ing to town­ship of­fi­cials for the light com­plaints then and say­ing, “I am aware of what I have said in the past yet our ac­tions have con­tin­u­ally failed to demon­strate that com­mit­ment. I am em­bar­rassed and fu­ri­ous that the si­t­u­a­tion has de­te­ri­o­rated to this point. It is un­ac­cept­able and you and the neigh­bors have ev­ery right to be up­set.”

In that email, Ko­vol­ski said the lights will be on a timer and will shut off at 9:15 p.m., ex­cept in the case of “var­sity ath­letic games” that have late start­ing times. That email also said that the lights will not go on be­fore 7 a.m.

“Ev­ery­thing he said is not the case,” said Farhy. “And the neigh­bors are sick of it. I am sick of it … None of this rings true. And if it does, it’s tem­po­rary and will be changed.” He called on his fel­low com­mis­sion­ers to “help Radnor be a serene sub­urb in­stead of a down­town si­t­u­a­tion.”

Kevin Kochan­ski, Radnor com­mu­nity devel­op­ment of­fi­cer, said, “Up un­til Septem­ber, they have been com­mit­ted to (turn­ing the lights out at) 9:15 p.m. In the mid­dle of Septem­ber they de­cided to change back to the 10:30 time.” Kochan­ski said the univer­sity had changed its pol­icy on the lights in 2017 but didn’t im­ple­ment the change un­til this Septem­ber.

“Do we not have an or­di­nance with light­ing?” asked board Pres­i­dent Lisa Borowski.

Kochan­ski said the or­di­nance says that lights “shall not cre­ate glare.”

An­n­marie Hess­man, a res­i­dent, said that two out of her three be­d­rooms are sub­ject to glare from Vil­l­lanova sta­dium light­ing. She has shades that she keeps down but that also means that in the morn­ing, she can’t leave the shades up so day­light can “help me wake up.” She has sug­gested “mul­ti­ple times” that the univer­sity in­stall dim­mer lights for prac­tices than those that are needed to tele­vise games.

“I’m not sure why you need these bright lights all the time,” she said, ask­ing the com­mis­sion­ers to change the or­di­nance.

Martin Caulfield, an­other res­i­dent, said he doesn’t “have a beef against Vil­lanova” but “light pol­lu­tion is light pol­lu­tion.”

Caulfield noted there is new tech­nol­ogy for sta­dium light­ing avail­able to­day with LED lights that use less en­ergy and do not glare brightly off the field. Neshaminy High School and Notre Dame Univer­sity have those lights, he said.

“It’s state of the art that is mit­i­gat­ing, if not elim­i­nat­ing, light spill to your neigh­bors,” Caulfield said. There are neigh­bor­hoods on three sides of the sta­dium that are im­pacted by the lights, he said. Caulfield also called for a new town­ship or­di­nance that could grand­fa­ther the univer­sity in for a few years to al­low it time to get a new light­ing sys­tem.

“Get them to wake up,” Cau­field said. “It’s been 30 years since they put those lights up. They’re not do­ing any­thing but liv­ing in the past.” As for the cost, univer­sity of­fi­cials “had the same ar­gu­ment about the pedes­trian bridge,” he said.

Jane Galli, who also lives nearby, said, “I will tell you if you come in our neigh­bor­hood … In the win­ter, you don’t have to use a flash­light to walk down the streets. We have bea­cons in the night. Those lights are shin­ing in our neigh­bor­hood.” Pre­vi­ously, Vil­lanova had only kept the lights on un­til 10:30 p.m. if “they had some­thing spe­cial go­ing on.”

“When you live next to Vil­lanova you have very lit­tle say,” said Galli. “... They can do damn well what they want.” Ward 7 pays the fourth most in taxes “but we don’t get the other ser­vices. We have a lot of peo­ple, a lot of homes, a lot of vot­ers.” And while there are dark sky light­ing rules writ­ten into the zon­ing change that al­lowed Vil­lanova to build new dor­mi­to­ries, the sta­dium is not in that zone, she said.

Roberta Win­ters, pres­i­dent of the Radnor League of Women Vot­ers, of­fered to hold a fo­rum to dis­cuss changes to the town­ship’s light­ing or­di­nances. She said that sleep de­pri­va­tion is a se­ri­ous health is­sue.

Robert Zienkowski, the town­ship man­ager, men­tioned pre­vent­ing light from spilling out­side a prop­erty bor­ders is a stan­dard for an or­di­nance.

“There have been a lot of com­mit­ments that have been made but prob­lems that are on­go­ing,” said Zienkowski. “They had changed the light stan­dard they could re­motely turn them off…As part of this the board could au­tho­rize us to speak to Vil­lanova.”

Zienkowski told the com­mis­sion­ers that of­fi­cials will work on an or­di­nance and present at the Oc­to­ber 22 com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing.

“If you’re go­ing to act, act. Be proac­tive,” said Sara Pilling, an­other res­i­dent.

When asked later to com­ment, Ko­vol­ski said, “Vil­lanova is com­mit­ted to open di­a­logue with its neigh­bors and sur­round­ing com­mu­nity. We un­der­stand that some res­i­dents have raised con­cerns re­cently re­gard­ing the sta­dium lights and the univer­sity has made mul­ti­ple ef­forts to dis­cuss the is­sue with Com­mis­sioner Farhy prior to Mon­day’s Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing. We will con­tinue to work closely with town­ship staff on this and other mat­ters.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Vil­lanova Univer­sity sta­dium.

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