County says new park lighting won't affect the community.
Approximately 30 Rosedale residents let Manatee County officials know they aren’t happy with improvements proposed for Lakewood Ranch Park.
Specifically, the Rosedale residents said they don’t want four additional 70-foot light poles being added to the park, and they don’t like the eight that were installed in 2016.
Manatee County held a public meeting Oct. 18 to describe some of the improvements it is making at the park.
The improvements will go in front of the Manatee County Commissioners, most likely after Jan. 1.
Rosedale’s Lynne Woodman said she wanted to let the county know she isn’t happy.
“We object to the height of the poles,” Woodman said of herself and her fellow residents. She said she has written a letter of concern to county commissioners.
Woodman said eight 70-foot light posts were added to the park in 2016 and the county didn’t adequately inform residents about the addition.
Rosedale’s Tom Repp said the county doesn’t seem to care about its own height limitations. He said at 70 feet, the light posts exceed Manatee County fixture heights outlined in the land development code, which says light poles within 100 feet of outdoor lighting protected areas should not exceed 20 feet in height.
“I understand the county is growing and it has to accommodate the growth,” Repp said. “Growing pains are tough, but you have to keep in mind the big picture. The county just doesn’t seem to care about what we have to say about the lights.”
However, the code says the light poles can be higher if it involves stadium and recreation lights that provide for the safety of those using the park.
Assistant County Attorney Bill Clague issued his opinion to county executives that the 70-foot poles did comply with the land development code.
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said the 70-foot poles will use lighting that will not cause substantial direct illumination off-site. She said after the project is done, even though the number of poles has increased, there will be less direct illumination off-site.
Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s director of Parks and Natural Resources, said there’s no way for the county to lower the height of the poles if it wants to adequately illuminate the fields at night for safety.
Hunsicker also said he meet with Rosedale’s HOA before the lights were installed in 2016 as well as meeting with homeowners who were most affected by the lighting.
The process also went through the commission if any residents wanted to voice their concerns.
The new lighting will benefit programs such as the Braden River Soccer Club, which practices Monday through Thursday and plays every Saturday.
In addition to the 12 70-foot light poles, the park also has 20 other light poles.
Rosedale resident Edward Lord said he is worried about the value of his home dropping if the light posts are installed.
Braden Woods resident Brenden Moriarty, a board member for the Braden River Soccer Club, said the residents shouldn’t be so concerned.
“We know there’s no light spillage,” he said, noting the lights go off at 9:05 p.m.
“Braden River Soccer wants to be good neighbors, but our responsibility is to the over 1,500 children in our community who play soccer on those fields every day,” Moriarty said.
Other improvements include eight new pickleball courts, a new roller hockey rink and four rebuilt tennis courts.
The new lighting will cost approximately $1 million.