By Karen Brainard
Young baseball players and their parents filled the Ramona Municipal Water District Board to show support for lighting improvements at the Pony League baseball fields at Ramona Community Park.
Mark Pack, treasurer for the Ramona Sports Association, said the lights are a safety measure, as players sometimes find it difficult to see a thrown baseball late in the day when the sun begins to set.
Although the proposed lighting was approved by the Ramona Community Planning Group in June 2010, and the county has allocated funds for it, several residents who neighbor the park said they had not been informed of the project and were concerned about its affect on their properties.
Milan Dimich, who lives across the street from the baseball fields, wrote a letter to the water district on behalf of the neighbors and spoke at the April 11 board meeting.
“We’re not against the kids. We’re not against the lights,” Dimich told the board, but, he added, the neighbors should have been consulted.
Concerns, he said, include how the lighting would impact property values, how late the lights would be on and if additional tournaments would be held at the fields with additional use of the public address system.
Dimich’s son, Milan C. Dimich, suggested the lighting could be mitigated by planting vegetation.
The project calls for 17 light poles with 84 light fixtures for the four Pony League baseball fields. Pack said the project started in 2005 but the 2007 Witch Creek fire stalled the process.
On March 16, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the allocation of $150,000 in Park Land Dedication Ordinance (PLDO) funds for the Ramona Parks and Recreation Association (RPRA) to install the lights.
As required by the county, Pony Baseball completed a photometric study in December 2010 that determined the project complies with county guidelines and code.
Pack said he has experience with lighting as he worked for General Electric and now works in industrial lighting and controls. He explained that the lights would be shielded and would use 50 percent less energy than former installations.
Board President Bryan Wadlington said that, while he was sensitive to the potential degradation of property values, he has to rely on the experts and the light spillage on the neighborhood looks to be minimal.
“I believe that the benefits for the children, not only in this generation but in future generations, that use that field is something to be supported,” said Wadlington.
The board approved staff’s recommendation to accept the ninth amendment to the joint powers exercise agreement between the county and RMWD that would allow the PLDO fees to be spent on the lighting improvements, and to affirm the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) findings. Director Kit Kesinger was absent.
After the vote was taken, Pack met with Dimich and his son to review the lighting plans.
In other business:
•The board adopted a revised 2011-2012 budget calendar that shows the next board budget workshop will be held June 28 and a Proposition 218 letter to ratepayers will be sent the week of July 4. The letter, required by state law, will notify customers of a not to exceed rate for water and sewer.
Adoption of the budget and a public hearing are scheduled for Aug. 23. These dates are tentative, district staff noted, and are dependent on the completion of a consultant’s water rate study.
•RMWD General Manager Ralph McIntosh announced that Robert McLaughlin will assume the Cal Fire battalion chief position vacated by Greg Griswold. Griswold has been promoted to division chief of central operations, formerly held by Kevin O’Leary, who is retiring. Griswold and O’Leary are Ramona residents.
•McIntosh said the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has announced it is lifting its mandatory restrictions and restoring allocations, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement that California’s drought has ended.