Waukesha approves Jackson Sparks memorial field, despite opposition from neighbors to lights & sound system
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wednesday night, on Aug. 24, the city of Waukesha's Plan Commission voted 4-2 to build a little league baseball complex in honor of Jackson Sparks.
But the approval came despite vocal opposition from several neighbors concerned about the impact of one specific part of the plan.
There are currently four fields at Oliver Park. The proposal would add a memorial plaza entrance to one of the fields, as well as an artificial turf surface, concrete dugouts, bleachers, lighting and a sound system.
The neighbors that addressed the commission all agreed building a memorial field honoring Jackson is a good idea, but the field that will be built will include lights and a sound system. They say that will be an unnecessary nuisance to the neighborhood.
Chris Smarch lives near newly approved memorial field. She told the commission, "I would ask you to take another look."
Another neighbor, James Young, said, "Send it back or change it for no lights and no sound."
The next speaker told the commission, "I second everything he said: no lights, no sound."
The proposal was approved anyway.
Young said, "It's been 25 years of great youth baseball, and it should remain that way with the fine upgrades they want to make. Short of lights and sound."
The longtime neighbors say the proposed lighting and sound system will be a nuisance and will break a promise that was made when the park was built in 1996.
Young said, "We were told back when this was built: 'no lights, no sound'."
Organizers say the latest LED technology will focus the lights directly on the field to avoid light leak into surrounding areas.
And they're considering mounting speakers low on the concession stand to limit how much sound reaches nearby homes.
Every person that addressed the commission was critical of the lights and sound system, but they supported memorializing Jackson.
Bill Miller said, "Yes, we want to honor Jackson Sparks, yes we want to have a memorial for him."
Young said, "We all want to honor Jackson Sparks and his sudden loss of life."
And neighbor Tom Tunnicliff told the commission, "One of the worst things I can think of is having negative connotations associated with that memorial."
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly supported the plan, saying, "I don't have a problem with its progression with lights and sound."
But other members did not.
Commission member Corey Montiho said, "No, I like the idea, it's nicely done. But don't support the lighting and I don't support the AV equipment."
And member R.G. Keller said, "I'm not sure what the motivation is if it's works now for league play."
After the meeting, the neighbors who addressed the commission said they were too upset to speak on camera.
The project will cost $1.3 million and will be paid for with private money. It's expected to be completed in spring of 2023.