Ballfield night lights to be dimmed

The city of Medford aims to turn down the nighttime lighting on the new Harry & David ballfield following concerns raised by the large retirement community on the hill.

The Rogue Valley Manor, the Medford Parks Department and the Medford Youth Baseball Society have been working together to find a way to keep the lights shining more on the ballfield and less on the sky.

Kevin McLoughlin, executive administrator for the Rogue Valley Manor, said the retirement community has always been supportive of the sports park, but the lights posed a potential problem.

"We were concerned and we voiced the concern about the lights," he said.

So the groups met this week to try to iron out the matter.

"They have some legitimate concerns about the lights at the Harry & David field," said Brian Sjothun, parks and recreation director, adding that he'd like to minimize the problem for other nearby residents and drivers on Interstate 5.

"We believe we have a solution," said Sjothun, "There may be as many lights, but they're different brightness and they're aimed differently and they have a hood on them."

The Harry & David field is the first of many to be built in the U.S. Cellular Community Park, on Highway 99 in south Medford. The 132-acre, $30 million park is expected to be completed over the next three years. In addition to the Harry & David field, it will include two high school baseball fields, seven softball and youth baseball fields, a championship soccer and football stadium, five field-sport areas and the Jefferson Nature Center. Playgrounds, trails and parking also are part of the plan. The five-field softball complex, under construction, should be ready in May. The field-sport areas should be ready in 2009.

Sjothun said the parks department has been researching ballfield lighting for the remaining fields under construction and those yet to be built.

Some ballfields in Ashland have a more efficient light system, he said.

"It puts light where it needs to go, which is on the field," he said.

Jason Anderson, Medford City Council member, said the city went with artificial turf for the fields in part so they could be used a lot more frequently than grass.

"It makes the most sense that we get the most use out of the fields as possible," he said. "If that means night games, so be it."

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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