The issue of “lights out” times at 5 Diamonds — now Infinity Fields Baseball Park — has a history that dates back to early in their opening 2012 season and before. The controversy over game times, noise, and lighting has vehemently been argued by nearby Milky Way Road resident, Sandy Hamm and a few other local neighbors. Despite these complaints the Waukesha Town Board voted 4 to 1 to rezone the baseball park from residential to park zoning. This means the park will no longer be constrained by the conditional use permit that limited matters such as game end times, lights out, and other restrictions.
Sarah Pryor wrote an excellent article in today’s Waukesha Freeman so I am sharing her article below.
Congratulations 5 Diamonds and Infinity Fields! Play Ball!
By Sarah Pryor: June 14, 2013 Waukesha Freeman, p.A4
TOWN OF WAUKESHA – A youth baseball park could get to keep its lights on a full hour later than last year, thanks to a Thursday evening decision by the Waukesha Town Board.
The board voted 4-1 to rezone Infinity Fields, formerly 5 Diamonds, from residential to park zoning, meaning that Infinity Fields will no longer have to abide by a conditional use permit that last year required the park to shut its lights off at 9:30 p.m.
The board also approved the park’s operating plan, which asks for a lights-out time of 10:30 p.m., after adding language that would limit the use of PA systems.
Waukesha County representatives must also sign off on any land-use plan changes, but Town Chairman John Marek said his contacts at the county have said they’re willing to expedite the process.
Open since May 2012, the 40-acre youth complex on Les Paul Parkway drew the ire of neighbors and Town Board members last year for violating its permits by keeping lights on too late and starting games too early, among other concerns. But many people have spoken out in support of 5 Diamonds, stating that the former board was trying to micromanage a private- sector business that caters primarily to children.
Park owner Tom Kelenic has repeatedly said that baseball isn’t a game that can be timed, and that turning lights off before the end of a game not only causes problems for future games in a tournament, but also stress for kids who don’t get their chance at bat.
Supervisor Joe Banske said the board needs to find some balance between the “great facility” and the desires of nearby residents, who also have complained about dust and noise from the park. Banske said he has reservations about allowing the park to be open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., citing concerns that games would “leak over” to 10:45 p.m. or even later.
Marek told the board he asked Kelenic what’s to stop the park from staying open until midnight, to which Kelenic responded: “Are you out of your mind? Why would we want to be there all night? We want to get the games finished and get the kids home.”
Assistant Town Attorney Doug Hoefer said that even under park zoning, any violation of the park’s operation plan (i.e. opening early or staying open too late) would be punishable by a $50 to $1,000 fine under the town’s ordinances.
Supervisor Mike Laska was the sole vote against the rezone and plan of operation. He said he was comfortable with the residential zoning and conditional use permit, which includes a provision for an annual review of whether the park is living up to its end of the bargain.