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No decision yet on Swenson Field lighting project

BEDFORD — A decision on the Swenson Field lighting project by the Town Council is still on hold, as the parties involved have yet to decide if it should be a private or a town-owned project.

The Bedford Athletic Club and Bedford Little League are working together on a plan to install lighting at two baseball diamonds and one soccer field at Swenson Field. The Parks and Recreation Department and the Planning Board were presented the plan last year.

The estimated cost is $325,090 for the project, with the athletic clubs expected to ask the town to match around $152,545 through “impact fees.”

Sports leagues have traditionally requested impact fees from the town for such projects, but Town Manager Stephen Daly raised some questions about the plan.

During Thursday’s Town Council meeting, Daly said that in his opinion, the town should be involved in the construction if it will be responsible for operating and maintaining the completed project.

“I think we need to have control over the project, in order to be confident that once it’s in ownership of the town, we have something that is up to our standards and has been erected in a way that we have control over,” he said.

Public Works director Jim Stanford said his department would have to spend more time researching the issue before making a recommendation. He added he’d take into consideration the public bidding process and how it would work in conjunction with donations, such as equipment, that the athletic clubs are seeking.

The Council will wait for Stanford’s recommendation before moving forward.

If a decision is made on how involved the town will be on the project, the next issue would be whether the leagues invest in construction with impact fee assistance, or if the town makes the investment and receives reimbursement from the members of league development, according to Town Councilor Jim Scanlon.

Adding to factors that the Council will also have to take into account, is information provided at the start of the meeting by Attorney John Cronin on behalf of abutters Ernest and Justine Falcone.

Cronin said the project application was ambiguous in some areas concerning lighting of the soccer and baseball fields and asked the Council to consider the impact to abutters if the project is completed.

“What’s undisputed in the Planning Board report is that there will be light pollution and there will be light spillover on the Falcone property,” Cronin said.A main concern is glare, Cronin said, which is unavoidable with lights mounted on 60 or 70 foot poles, as he suggested options for full or partial cutoff lights that could minimize the impact. If the project is allowed to move forward, Cronin asked the conditions be imposed to minimize the impact on abutters, providing selectmen a binder containing similar court cases supporting his request.

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