Little League Makes Pitch For Lights

January 10, 2019

GLENBURN TWP. — A decision on whether there will be light at the Abington Little League’s facility on Ackerly Road didn’t reach home plate Wednesday night. About 50 people attended the more than three-hour-long zoning hearing board meeting, where members heard testimony from the Little League president, representatives from the company that would install lights at the fields and others. Ultimately, board members decided to schedule another meeting to allow more testimony from residents who live near the field before they make a ruling. The bulk of the hearing centered on the testimony of league President Ryan Mitvalsky, who fielded questions about what times of the year and times of day the lights would be on. Mitvalsky said the fields would never be used from November through January. The league’s regular season runs from April through June, Mitvalsky said. All-Star games run on a few dates in July, another tournament runs in August and a fall season runs in September and October, he said. It’s not the league’s intent to have night games every night, but rather to give the league options to reschedule games delayed or postponed by weather or other issues, plus allow games to be finished in the fall, Mitvalsky said. The latest regular season games would be scheduled for play would be 7:30 p.m., though All-Star tournament games could run later than regular season games, he added. Mitvalsky said there would be no night practices nor field maintenance under lights, as the lights are expensive to keep on and the league is self-funded. “The intent of the lights is to have the flexibility to say, ‘Team A is going play their game at 5:30, then they’re going to make up a game,’ ” Mitvalsky said. He also said league officials could include in bylaws that night games would never be played on Sundays. The zoning board could make a measure like that a condition of granting permits to add the lights, board solicitor William Blaum said. Zoning board chairman Don Webster asked if there was a way the lights could be set on a timer and turned off automatically once it reaches a certain time of night. That would avoid any possible disagreements between neighbors about how long the lights were lit on a given night, he said. The lights do have that capability, Mitvalsky said. Wednesday night’s meeting is the latest in a years-long effort by the league to add illumination to two fields located at a complex on Ackerly Road. The plan that saw objections from neighboring property owners, previous denials by the township’s planning commission and zoning board, and had its day in Lackawanna County court. Lackawanna County Judge James Gibbons ruled in September that the zoning board erred in the original ruling when it denied the league’s request for a special zoning exception that would allow it to install lights at two of the complex’s five fields. The issue focused on a complex legal interpretation of what type of project qualifies for a special exception and whether the project met standards set for ball fields, parking lots and other outdoor spaces by the Illuminating Engineering Society. Gibbons ruled the project does qualify for a special exception. He also found the project meets standards set by the IES. He sent the case back to the zoning board to reevaluate the proposal. The plans call for LED lights in a project that will cost about $140,000 for installation at one field and $160,000 for installation at the other, Mitvalsky said. The league intends to raise the money through fundraising, corporate donations and grant money, he said. However, fundraising has not been able to start yet because many of the grants league officials are interested in require a permit to be in hand, he said. The date of the next hearing has yet to be determined. Contact the writer: cover@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5363; @ClaytonOver on Twitter

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