After years of petitioning the Board of Education and fundraising, the efforts of some Rockville Centre residents will pay off on April 24 when a ribbon cutting ceremony is held for the new lights on the field at South Side High School.
The RVC Athletic Council had been working for years to get the lights approved. It faced steep opposition from some residents — who didn’t want lights at the field for fear of light pollution — and also from circumstance itself.
“It was a challenge,” said David Howard, one of the members of the Athletic Council. “I think it was complicated by a number of factors, including the recession that hit shortly after we began fundraising efforts.”
The lights for the field are not being funded through the district’s bond, but from funds raised in the community, which were supplemented by a state grant secured by Sen. Dean Skelos. The Athletic Council raised more than $105,000, and Skelos secured a grant for $250,000 from the State Dormitory Authority.
Some residents were concerned about light pollution from the field when the lights were being discussed a few years ago. The new lights, Howard said, do not cause much light to spill off the field. Additionally, the Board of Education has created policies to not allow the lights to be on past 8 p.m. on most occasions.
“I think a balance of very focused and minimal spill,” he said, “coupled with respectful and reasonable management by the school board — I don’t think the neighbors are going to have any issues.”
Fellow Athletic Council member Mark Ahern went further, saying that most neighbors of the school would actually like the lights. “There now are going to be walking lights on for the track,” Ahern said. “Many of the neighbors exercise in the evenings and they walk on the track in the pitch black.” According to Howard, the walking lights are just enough to light the track.
Lisa Rhoades, who lives nearby the school on Brevoort Place, said she is looking forward to the lights being fully functional.
“I think it will be a nice added bonus to our fields,” she said. “It will be nice to be a spectator in our own backyard, at our own school, and actually be able to see.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Brower Avenue resident Jennifer Angelis.
“I’m extremely excited, and even more excited that the turf is going to go in,” Angelis said. “I’m looking forward to watching a football game under the lights, hopefully in the fall.”