Edgewood High School wants to add seats, lighting and a sound system to its athletic field that will allow it to host sporting events at night. Some neighbors of the west side Catholic school are opposed to the idea, with worries about traffic, parking, light and noise.
There are many concerns, a lot of skepticism, and some anger among neighbors, said David Hoffert, president of the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association, but he hopes an upcoming neighborhood meeting will foster two-way communication.
“Edgewood has an opportunity to further address those concerns and see if they can change minds,” Hoffert said.
The meeting will be held this Wednesday, Oct. 17 at Edgewood Commons, 2219 Monroe St., at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the proposal.
On its website, Edgewood High School officials say they have wanted to host varsity home games “for decades.” Without a home field, Edgewood has to deal with “continuous scheduling issues,” as the school rotates between three other high schools' fields for home soccer and football games.
The high school property touches the Dudgeon-Monroe and Vilas Neighborhoods. If approved, the project would create a 1,200-seat stadium with press box, changing rooms, restrooms and concession area at its field, on the corner of Monroe and Woodrow streets. The new stadium would allow between 26 and 40 evening games a year, with lighting needed for around 18 to 27 of those games.
According to Edgewood, some stadium features that could help alleviate neighborhood concerns include planned LED lighting that would minimize “glare, light spill and sky glow” and a sound system that would direct noise into the stadium.
“Sound, by design, will disappear into the crowd no matter the crowd size because of the aim, pitch and location of the speakers, combined with the use of sound panels located all around and on top of the seating,” Michael Elliott, president of Edgewood High School, told the DMNA.
Edgewood has also answered proposed solutions to parking, traffic and other issues, but neighbors still have questions. One example, Hoffert said: even if the speaker system is advanced, what about crowd noise?
A DMNA survey last April found that most respondents in the neighborhood opposed the project. Hoffert said Monday that although DMNA has not conducted another survey, he doesn’t think the rough breakdown of two-thirds opposed and one-third in support has significantly changed.
Ald. Allen Arntsen, District 13, said on his blog that he’s “received many communications on both sides of this issue.”
“(I) am particularly interested in what meaningful and enforceable conditions and limitations can be placed on any outdoor evening activities at the Edgewood athletic field to minimize adverse effects on nearby properties,” he wrote.
Edgewood must amend its master plan to go through with the project. A timeline would put the project before the City Council in January, which would allow construction to start in the summer of 2019, so as to be ready for fall sports.
“We love this neighborhood as much as the people who live in the homes surrounding our campus,” the Edgewood website says. “We are committed to doing everything we can to maintain the quaint personality that makes this neighborhood such a desirable place to live and raise a family.”
Hoffert hopes neighbors listen with “an open mind,” and listen to the accommodations Edgewood is proposing. He also wants Edgewood to take action on important neighborhood concerns that have not yet been addressed.
The DMNA will not take a formal stance on the issue until after the meeting Wednesday, he said.