Village Council members agreed to light the baseball field at the Key Biscayne K-8 Center to give local youth athletes more time to practice and play.

New field lighting at the Key Biscayne K-8 Center will provide much-needed relief to the Village’s increasingly space-strapped youth baseball and softball program.

Village Council members on June 25 agreed to a $332,500 contract with Musco Sports Lighting LLC for lighting the baseball facility and basketball court at the school. The Village uses the facilities for its youth sports programs under an agreement with the Miami-Dade School District.

The issue first came up June 5 based on a request from Youth Athletics Advisory Board Chair Glen Waldman, who noted the Village lost access to lighted Crandon Park baseball fields after the most recent season, so it needs to be able to use the K-8 Center facility to accommodate all of its baseball and softball activities starting next spring.

“We need lights. We need lights in the worst way for that field – it will have to accommodate the entire baseball program,” Waldman said.

A memo to the Council confirmed that due to restrictions in the Crandon Park Master Plan, Miami-Dade County officials are removing the Crandon Park baseball fields, fencing and ball field lighting that Village baseball and softball teams have used for years.

Waldman said that led the YAAB to vote unanimously to recommend the project to the Council.

“If approved, this will not only benefit our baseball program but also numerous other sports, which will need the field space after dark as well,” Waldman said, noting the lights would allow the Village to develop a lacrosse program and could also allow the fields to be used by soccer and other sports. “It would become a multiuse field, for a lot of our sports.”

Council members offered support after Waldman’s June 5 report, asking Village Manager John Gilbert to prepare a resolution they could vote on. However, they said they did want to give the public a chance to weigh in before approving the project.

In the past, field lighting proposals have generated concern about light pollution. While Waldman noted technology has greatly improved and local leaders said they have not received complaints about lights on the Village Green or at St. Agnes Academy, Council members still decided to put off a decision until the 25th so residents could speak up if they wanted to.

On the 25th, Jason Frucht from Musco was on hand to confirm that the products his company will use cause very little light spillover into the surrounding area.

However, no residents attended the meeting to speak up, and Council members said they had not heard any complaints or concerns.

With that, the Council approved the contract unanimously, and Gilbert said he will keep working on final approval by the Miami-Dade County School Board for the project. He noted, “If these requirements delay the estimated substantial completion date beyond the first day of school, the work may be scheduled to take place at a later date mutually agreed upon by all parties.”

“We’re coordinating a meeting now to review all the documents with them,” Parks and Recreation Director Todd Hofferberth said, adding things should speed up now that the person the Village needs to talk to is back from a two-week vacation.

Gilbert added funding is available in the working capital line to pay for the lights.