By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Jan. 26, 2023) The Berlin Mayor and Town Council are keeping the lights on late.
On Monday, the body unanimously voted to allow the tennis and basketball court lights at Stephen Decatur Park and Dr. William Henry Park to stay on until 11 p.m., well past the consensus of 9 p.m. from the town Parks Commission.
Commission Chair Mike Wiley said during the meeting that feedback from a recent survey was minimal — two people said 9 p.m., two said 11 p.m. and one said no lights at all.
“We haven’t heard any real negative or real positive,” he said. “Just general comments about it.”
During the public hearing that preceded the vote, resident Tony Weeg said that he spoke “on behalf of the kids who get off at 9 p.m. during the summer” that the lights should stay on until 11 p.m.
“I can see them through the woods. I can hear them playing. I can hear my daughter hitting tennis balls back and forth … I think changing Decatur Park would be an absolute mistake,” he said. “There are people that use it. The (Stephen) Decatur (high school) team tennis players go over there in the evenings and play after they get off work. The changing would just be nonsense.”
“As far as Henry Park, same scenario. You’re going to have people that get off work at 9 o’clock in the summer and want to go play basketball for a couple of hours in the prime of beautiful weather. If you shut that off at 9, you’re going to have no lights on during the summer, which defeats the purpose of the lights. If you kept it the same it’d be 11 p.m. at both parks.”
Weeg added that if the town gets a skate park — a project that his nonprofit We Heart Berlin is working to bring to life — having all the lights go until 11 p.m. would be helpful to keeping “with the same timeframe and same thought process.”
Resident Gina Velong said that the later the lights are on, the better for those walking around the area as well, as it makes walkways feel safer.
However, Mary Bohlen pointed out that no one should be using park walkways after sunset. The hours for town parks are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
Another resident said that it’s better to know that area youth are there on the courts than anywhere else they may be at that hour and another suggested that 11 p.m. should be the absolute earliest option, never mind the latest time.
The ordinance will go into effect on Feb. 12.