More than 50 homeowners attended Brighton Superintendent Greg Gray's meeting at Scranton Middle School on Tuesday night to find out information about the new athletic field that will be built behind the school next spring.
The athletic field is one small part of an $88.4 million bond approved by voters in May. The bond also provides for building updates at the middle school, including secure vestibule installation, flooring replacement, a new building fire alarm system, additional power for technology upgrades and more.
The homeowners are mostly concerned with noise, light spill, traffic and parking once the new facilities are built. Many of them also were angry that the football field will now be located behind the school with the other athletic fields.
The location of the football field was originally planned in front of the school but was changed when the Livingston County Road Commission required an additional 100-plus feet to complete the new Scranton roundabout, which pushed the proposed field into a secondary septic system that the district may have to look at some day if the primary septic system fails.
In terms of consolidating athletic facilities, it made more sense to have the football field in the back of the school along with the soccer fields, baseball/softball diamonds and tennis courts, Gray said.
Many residents were upset that they did not have a say in the location change and some of the additions to the facility, such as concessions and restrooms.
"It's easy to understand; some people are going to love it (Scranton field) and some are going to hate it," Gray said. "I would never hold a meeting before planning because then I can't answer any of your questions. I want the same things as you want. I want your neighborhood not to be impacted. I want facilities for the kids. It's a balancing act."
Gray said the district is purchasing specialized lights that will reduce light spill by 50 percent. The lights only will illuminate the field and a small part of the bleachers, he said. Gray also said the speakers for the public announcement system will be angled inwards towards the bleachers in order to reduce sound bleeding into the surrounding area.
Bob and Brenda Goebbel said they pay $15,000 extra for their lot at the end of a cul de sac for the rural feel and do not want any school facility polluting it.
"We absolutely do not want a public announcement system," Brenda Goebbel said. "We absolutely do not want concessions or a press box. That was not on the original bond application. I want to see it moved back to the original site. The fact that there's a reserve septic field that might be impacted somewhere down the road is not a good reason. You can put a reserve septic field anywhere. All those things not part of the bond I don't want to see put in. I don't want the lights put in either."
Brenda Goebbel said she didn't even know the football field was being moved from its original location.
"I'm upset that none of us were notified about this," she said. "We only found out about it because a neighbor has a kid that was going to be playing soccer on a new field. I feel like we're being bulldozed. They could have notified the people most impacted. If he (Gray) would have announced that, he would have had a lot more people in here tonight."
Matthew Prusky said he is in favor of the Scranton field because both he and his wife are active and like to take walks with their young daughters, ages 2 and 4.
"A lot of arguments are difficult to understand," Prusky said. "Brighton has streetlights 24 hours a day right there, where many of these people live. I think a lot of people my age or younger who have children are going to be really in favor of this because they have kids in sports and this is a great thing. It makes the area look more attractive."
Gray said he will take residents' concerns and suggestions back to the Board of Education and discuss parking concerns with the district's police liaison officer. Construction is planned between April and August for the new facilities.
Gray said he plans on holding additional bond update meetings for residents in the neighborhoods near Brighton High School and Spencer Elementary School to talk about the work planned for those buildings, but does not have any dates confirmed yet.
To see the original bond application or the schematic designs for the first bond series, visit the Brighton Area Schools website Bond Update page.