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No New Stadium

Dozens of families on Monroe Street and its side streets display yard signs showing their opposition to creating a stadium at Edgewood High School. The school announced to parents Friday that it will no longer pursue a change to the master plan but would instead seek permits for lighting and sound amplification.

Edgewood High School is scaling back its proposal to build a stadium on its athletic field that has had neighbors up in arms for months, but a neighborhood leader called the new plan “disingenuous.”

The Edgewood High School Board of Trustees announced in a letter to parents Friday it will seek permits for outdoor lighting and improvements for its sound amplification systems without asking for the increase in seating, a concessions stand, a ticket booth and team room space at the school’s Goodman Athletic Field that were originally proposed.

The initial proposal would have required an amendment to the school’s master plan, which is subject to approval by the city’s Plan Commission. Lighting and sound systems are regulated by city ordinances, so the school would just need to meet those requirements, which the board says the new proposal does.

“We took this action in order to continue our conversations with our neighbors — at their request — and to better focus on the Goodman Athletic Complex improvements allowed through existing ordinances versus those that require an amendment to our Master Plan,” the board said in the letter to parents.

Rachel Fields, vice president of the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association, said the proposal to only pursue lights and sound amplification without a change to the master plan had never been discussed with the neighborhood association. She said she last met with the high school’s president, Michael Elliott, Jan. 12 to talk about a sound-barrier option for the field.

She found out about the new plan Friday evening.

“We’re extremely surprised and disappointed,” Fields said.

Elliott could not be reached for comment Friday.

Many residents of the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood have opposed the proposed change to the master plan, lamenting the disruption sports would bring to the neighborhood’s often quiet evenings. They cited noise from football crowds and amplified sound, light pollution and increased traffic among the reasons for their opposition.

Edgewood officials have said the upgrades to the athletic field are necessary to host home football games, which have been played at various fields in the Madison area for about two decades.

Ald. Allen Arntsen, 13th District, who represents the neighborhood, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Fields said residents, neighborhood association members and high school officials had been discussing the proposed stadium for about eight months. She said the plan announced Friday ignores the neighborhood’s input.

“We were under the assumption that they valued that conversation,” Fields said.

The proposed change to the master plan was set to go before the Plan Commission last month, but the high school asked for it to be taken off the agenda at the neighborhood association’s request.

The Edgewood board said the proposed LED lighting and sound systems are well within city requirements, crowd noise would be consistent with similar Madison facilities and an environmental study found there would be no impact on the surrounding natural environment, including nearby Lake Wingra.

“Based on the outcomes of numerous studies conducted as part of this exhaustive process, we believe we can move forward not just under the letter of the law, but also in good faith, knowing there will be minimal negative impact from these actions,” the board said.

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.