Fundraising Since 2022
Check out Loyola Academy's Champions Campaign Website, first launched in 2022, to see the presentation of Loyola's plans to its community in order to raise money for four permanent 80 feet tall light towers (with 14 lights each) and a jumbotron. These installations--if approved by the Village--will allow Loyola to hold a slew of noisy evening games and events at its Laramie Avenue stadium, bringing thousands of spectators (and associated traffic) for bigger events with noise exceeding the level of the Edens Expressway in violation of Village and State noise limits unless the Village changes the law to remove that protection, and also "allow[ing] for increased rental opportunities."
Loyola currently plans to seek approval from the Wilmette Zoning Board of Appeals in September 2023 but that is subject to change.
Withholding These Plans
NONE of this was disclosed in the "Loyola Forward 2025" master plan documents shared with neighbors and Village over the past five years as Loyola obtained a series of zoning approvals for significant expansions under the guise of community outreach and transparency.
When the possibility of permanent stadium lights was raised in the past, neighborhood opposition has always been strong and vocal.
Watch the YouTube video below for the story of a San Diego neighborhood dealing with the destructive addition of permanent high school stadium lights and other stadium "improvements," with one neighbor stating "this is a Pandora's box [and the] time to act is before things progress."
In the midwest such a zoning application has been denied based on neighborhood impacts, which denial was upheld in court.
And right here in Wilmette we have residents dealing with the potentially destructive impacts of Nortwestern University's proposed redevelopment and expanded uses of Ryan Stadium in Evanston.
Increasing Current Burdens
Loyola's neighbors already deal with traffic, noise and other disturbances related to its operations, but only occasionally in the evening when non-athletic events take place. There is no capacity for more disturbance, particularly in the evening which in general is a time of respite.
Everyone in the larger neighborhood lives with the noise of the Edens Expressway, and many also deal with evening disturbances (and related issues) from the lighted paddle courts and unsupervised drinking in West Park that began and grew with a series of Village approvals in the last decade. Both the Edens Expressway and the Platform Tennis Club in West Park represent evening disturbance conditions that do not exist anywhere else in Wilmette.
Changing Village Law for Expansion - Again
Loyola knows this can't be approved without changes to Village law that is meant to protect residents from disturbances, including an increase in the allowed evening decibel limits, among other legal accommodations. The Village cannot change state noise law but can refuse to enforce it consistent with changes made to Village law.
The Village should discourage Loyola from putting the West of Edens Community through this fight for these reasons alone. Changing Village law to allow more disturbances in an area that already lives with the greatest evening noise conditions in town, after all the legal accommodations already made to allow Loyola's expansions, will not be tolerated.
No possible land use deal between Loyola Academy, the Park District and the Village could ever make approving this right. More on that possible deal to come.
Ignoring Neighborhood Pleas
Every neighbor who spoke at Loyola's open house held about these plans was opposed, but Loyola is proceeding anyway.
Loyola filed an incomplete zoning application with the Village in February, then elected not to complete the application and present the plans at a Zoning Board hearing in March. This does not reflect a withdrawal by Loyola, only that it's waiting to proceed when it believes the chances for approval are strongest.
The West of Edens Community Action Network demands equal treatment from the Village of Wilmette and respect from Loyola Academy for West of Edens residents and all who care about such impacts being prevented. The best mitigation is not to create or allow the disturbance condition in the first place.
Approval of these plans and the consequent damage to so many lives and properties will not be tolerated. There is no deal here, this is a HARD NO situation. Pursuing a compromise with conditions and mitigations will not be accepted. There have been enough deals in this neighborhood that would not be allowed anywhere else in Wilmette. No more.
The law must stand and be honored. Alternatives must be pursued.
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Loyola may not think so, but together WE CAN!