Methacton Debates Installing Lights At Football Stadium A Plan For 100-foot-high Lights Was Once Approved By The Worcester Zoning Board, But Not By Supervisors. The School Board Is Deciding Whether To Ask Again.

Posted: January 23, 1998

WORCESTER — As if tossing a twirling baton several feet in the air and then catching it weren't difficult enough. Try doing it in complete darkness.

That's what some Methacton High School band members are faced with when they practice during autumn evenings at the school's football field. The field, which is not equipped with lights, has presented some interesting difficulties, band director Bret Mascaro said Wednesday.

Mascaro is hoping these troubles will end if the Methacton school board and Worcester Township officials support a long-debated proposal to install 100-foot-high lights at the high school stadium.

``Rehearsal time is less effective toward the middle of the season when we start to lose daylight,'' Mascaro said. ``By 7 o'clock, it's pretty much done. Two-thirds of the practice is in the dark.'' Students have trouble seeing the drum major, steps are hard to follow, and the color guards' flags become a safety hazard.

``In some respects, we could be musically stumbling around if we can't see the drum major,'' he said.

Though the lighting plan, a point of contention since the early 1980s, was approved in 1993 by the township Zoning Hearing Board, it did not win the Board of Supervisors' favor. Two subsequent court rulings, one by Commonwealth Court and another by the state Supreme Court, backed the supervisors in their fight against the lights.

The school board may be willing to revisit the issue. At a Tuesday night committee meeting, board President James Van Horn said he would like the board to vote next week on whether or not its members want to see the lights installed.

``We want to take a pulse check . . . to see if we are in a position to say yes, we want the lights there,'' Van Horn said Wednesday.

The timing is important. A group of parents recently asked the Worcester Township supervisors to consider changing an ordinance that prohibits exterior lights measuring more than 12 feet high, Van Horn said.

The supervisors, who said they would take the issue under advisement, are scheduled to meet again Feb. 18.

``I think there are some safety and educational setting issues that would be enhanced by the lights, but I would never argue it from a football standpoint,'' Van Horn said.

Still, Township Manager Charles Sardo said, he and many Worcester residents are not quite sold. ``We are receiving letters daily all against these lights,'' he said. ``I'm sure the board [of supervisors] will take that into consideration.''

Sardo said he was concerned that night football games might attract trouble, presenting problems for a town without a police force. Others are worried that bright, beaming lights will detract from the rural setting.

``There are quite a few homes that would be affected,'' he said. ``There is such a thing as light pollution, just like noise pollution.''

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