Below are frequently asked questions the Welles Park Advisory Council has received about the Welles Park Parents Association’s lights proposal. The answers pertain to the operation of Welles Park and specific interactions with the WPPA. For questions about the WPPA, please visit their website at WPPAChicago.org.
Who will be making the decision?
The Chicago Park District is the decision-making body and a decision is expect by the end of April. Community feedback, recommendation of the WPAC and Alderman Matt Martin will weigh into the decision.
When will the lights be used?
The WPPA is proposing use of the lights during its spring season, from late-April to mid-July. Games are played Wednesday nights and weekends (Friday-Sunday nights). Practices are held on remaining days and draw fewer spectators. If a field is not in use the lights for that field will not be on.
While some teams start practice for WPPA’s fall ball in mid-August or September, the league does not, and is not proposing to, use the fields at night in the fall.
Note: Lights may be used for limited purposes by other organizations with permission of the Chicago Park District. There is no plan at this time to use the lights for anything else except for fall football practices, which occur on weekdays and end at 7 p.m.
What is the curfew and who enforces it?
The lights will be controlled by a timer and will be set to go out at 9:30 p.m., regardless of the status of the games. The Chicago Park District will enforce the curfew.
How will the lights be paid for?
The WPPA would pay for the installation of the lights through grants and fundraising. No public funds would be used, nor would funds be diverted from other park projects. The vendor selected by the WPPA has a 25 year warranty on the system.
Once the contract with the vendor expires in 25 years, who will maintain them?
The Chicago Park District. It will be park district property. Should there be an issue the park district knows it is taking the ownership and responsibility for this asset.
What has been the reaction of nearby businesses?
Both the North Center and Lincoln Square chambers of commerce support the proposal. Individual businesses have voiced their support to the alderman’s office.
How is litter addressed?
The condition and cleanliness of the park is a year-round priority of the WPAC, especially since the pandemic has reduced the Park District budget and park resources. The Park District has offered to increase the number of recycling and landfill bins in the park and will hold WPPA accountable if teams or spectators do not clean up their litter.
Additionally, the WPAC hosts regular cleanups during warmer months and welcomes community volunteers to participate. The WPPA is notified if there is an increase of litter around the baseball fields, and they have been responsive in addressing the issue in seasons past.
Section 3, Article 8 of WPPA’s rulebook states: At the end of a game, each team must clean up its dugout area and leave the dugout area before the next team enters the dugout area. Coaches are reminded that they are responsible for cleaning up any litter left in the viewing stand area from the spectators watching their game.
How will parking be addressed?
The WPAC encourages all park visitors to walk, bike, or use public transportation, as does the WPPA in its communication to families. Due to the density of Lincoln Square and the popularity of Welles Park and local amenities such as Sulzer Library, free, on-street parking may not always be as convenient as residents or visitors may prefer.
What is the impact on migratory birds?
In order to protect migratory birds, managers of large buildings participate in Lights Out Chicago by turning off decorative lighting on the upper stories from 11 p.m. until daylight from March 15 to June 15 and again from August 15 to November 15. This recommendation applies to buildings of 40 or more stories and to buildings of 20 or more stories that are isolated from other buildings. The lights at Welles Park would be 60 feet tall (roughly four stories) and would not be in use during the recommended outage times.
What would be the impact on the NaturePlace or other parts of the park?
The lights will be limited to the baseball and softball diamonds on the east side of the park and should not impact the NaturePlace, the Gazebo or the children’s playground.