Dim view about lights

Mercer school officials, neighbors and interested parties Wedneday night discuss the lights at the soccer field off Lamor Road. People who live nearby have complained to the school board that the lights are too bright.

The stadium lights on Mercer Area School District’s soccer field on Lamor Road light the field up like daytime. But they also shine on nearby homes on Vogan and Spruce drives.

School board members surveyed the situation Wednesday night at dusk. Resident Michael Kosmowski said the lights violate several borough zoning ordinances.

Board President Cedric Butchy said he has chaired the zoning board and there is nothing illegal about the lights. “The borough would be all over us if we were in violation. We’re not.”

Resident Dave Lancaster said he felt like he had been misled. He said Mercer Soccer Boosters circulated a petition and said there would only be four lights on 30-foot poles. Then came 44 lights on 60-foot poles.

Butchy said the boosters’ petition is moot since it was not required by law. Mercer Zoning Officer Dennis Dudek said in the past that the petition was taken into consideration, but was not the reason the permit to erect the lights was granted.

The lights will be used for 18 to 20 soccer games, and would most likely be shut off by 9:30 p.m., Butchy said.

Homeowner Nick Sicilian said how often the lights are on is not an issue, and Lancaster said it’s a matter of what is right and wrong.

Butchy said he could tell the lights shined onto neighbors' homes, but he said sometimes neighbors have to put up with each other. He offered to have an independent engineer check to see if there is a way to alleviate the lighting spillover, but added there may be no solution.

School superintendent Dr. William D. Gathers has said that a lighting expert had already positioned the lights to minimize their impact on neighboring homes.

Kosmowski said he would continue to delve into the legality of the zoning and would pursue further action if he had a case. He added that if he was wrong, he would drop it.

The new lights were installed when the first four were found to be insufficient. Gathers said they cost $57,000. The soccer boosters covered half the cost and the rest came from royalties paid to the district by the Coca Cola Co. to place its machines in school buildings.

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