School Superintendent Pedro Garrido spoke on the light poles at the Roselle Park High School (RPHS) Athletic Complex during the July 26th Board Of Education (BOE) meeting. Three poles have already been removed and, based on the recommendation of the report commissioned by the BOE, six more poles will be taken down in August. This current course of action was set into motion when a light pole on the athletic complex fell during a storm on April 3rd of this year.
The fields were closed and an structural integrity analysis was done of the two dozen light poles. The investigation was conducted by French & Parrello.
Mr. Garrido has stated that in addition to poles 6,13, and 24 which already were removed, poles 4, 7, 11, 16, 18, and 22 are the ones slated to be removed. The six poles have been highlighted with a red box and the three poles already removed have been marked with an X. Click below to enlarge the photograph.
The superintendent said that the inspection of the tops of the poles are expected to be done during the first half of August. Once a report is completed, the Board will decide what to do with the existing poles and how many portable lights will need to be rented for the fall. Mr. Garrido added, “I think, based on inspection on the top of the poles, we will have an answer for you, hopefully, by the next meeting.”
Previously, at the June 28th meeting, BOE member Loren Harms addressed residents’ concerns about the lights and how night games and practices would be impacted. He said, “We tried to figure out what we need [portable] lights for. If we wanted Friday night football games again it would be roughly $15,000 for one season.”
Mr. Harms added that if more lights were purchased for RPHS Marching Band practices and other night activities it would roughly be $5,000 more for a total cost of $20,000 to rent portable lights.
With the proposed lights that will be removed, there will be dead spots on the baseball and softball fields.
Mr. Harms remarked, “That is unsafe for anybody to play out there to try and catch a fly ball . . . That whole side closest to the high school is a dead spot also. So that field alone for varsity softball and baseball couldn’t be used at any time even if we left all the other lights up.”
Addressing the marching band concerns, Mr. Harms stated, “The band will have something. We understand that whether the poles are there or we get the portable lights out there because we know you do a tremendous job. You children do a fantastic job, they’re out there more than anybody I know. They do a great job. We have to do something because [they’re] our students.”
He asked for patience and understanding from the public regarding the future of the light poles. He explained, “I sit here trying to make the decisions for all our students. And the biggest decision I have to make is to make sure that our students and anybody that comes on to our facilities is safe – that nothing happens to them and if that means taking all the poles down, we’re taking all the poles down. It’s not anything to scare anybody.”
Mr. Harms expressed the possibility that, at some point, the school district might have to have Saturday afternoon games if the lights are not replaced due to the estimated cost of between $900,000 to $1,200,000. Making it a point to keep the safety of everyone over the convenience of night games in everyone’s mind, Mr. Harms concluded, “Everybody can have their own thoughts on it but us up here have to make the decision for the safety of our children or anybody else that comes on that field. And I would like to debate anybody that doesn’t think that that’s more important than anything.”
The next BOE meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 23, 201 at 7 p.m. in the Roselle Park Middle School Auditorium.