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Ald. John Arena Proposes New Soccer Field Layout For Schurz High School

By Evan F. Moore | May 3, 2016 8:38am | Updated on May 4, 2016 8:55am
 The holdup for many community members had to do with the use of lights at the field.
The holdup for many community members had to do with the use of lights at the field.
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DNAinfo/Evan F. Moore

IRVING PARK — Ald. John Arena (45th) proposed two layouts for the soccer field next to Schurz High School in a community meeting at the school Monday night.  

The school, located at 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave. since it opened in 1910, has outgrown its current field. 

The new proposed field layout includes an artificial turf field with a softball diamond, a 100-yard-by-55-yard soccer field, a two-lane synthetic jogging track, new portable scoreboards and bleachers along with the ability to host lacrosse games.

The field is scheduled to cost $1.5 million to build, Arena said. 

"The field looks the way it does" right now because of "deferred maintenance," Arena said . "This is what happens when money is put elsewhere."

A second proposal being considered is similar to the first, but also includes lights so the field can host evening events. The lights will be friendly to the surrounding community, Arena told the audience — a major talking point for some community members who attended the meeting. 

"We want to maximize the usage of the field," Arena said. "Sports happen from sunup to sundown. We have to think about the management of the field."

The school supports 36 sports teams and half of them are outdoor sports teams. Arena said the new field layout would meet IHSA standards.

"We needed 300 feet for what I described," Arena said. "When someone competes for a ball, they won't meet a metal fence."

Arena told community members that Waveland Avenue would not close. An established timeframe of restricted hours will be determined at a later date, he said, and rental to adult sports leagues will be limited.

Last year, the meetings were polarizing at best. Many of the community members who live in the vicinity of the field were not included in the initial proposals

The main point of contention with community members is the use of lights, and concerns about the security of the field. Arena had a heated exchange with a community member during the meeting.

"If the field can't have lights, why have the field?" he said, after a resident challenged the plan to add lighting. "I'm asking for change. I know change is difficult. It's a security issue if games continue after dark."

Angelo Torres, another community member, agreed with Arena's premise.

"My kids went to Lane Tech and the positives outweigh the negatives," he said, of the addition of lights to the shared field. 

"If we can't have lights, we shouldn't have the field."

Colleen Antas, Schurz's athletic director, echoed Arena's sentiments about the lack of resources.

"The field is the way it is because of the way things are these days," Antas said. "I hope the alderman and the community can come to some sort of agreement. Only time will tell."

Schurz, which has 2,000 students, is the fifth largest CPS high school.

Arena told DNAinfo that he wants to break ground by the end of the school year. 

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