Change is afoot at Saint Mary's College in Moraga as college representatives made their case for two new sports fields, some new lighting and extended hours to accommodate the school's sports-loving student body Monday night.
A team of designers, planners, school officials and their contractor presented their plan for "nudging" the existing men's baseball field closer to Saint Mary's Road and Saint Mary's Parkway, as well as for a new intramural field with state-of-the-art lighting and artificial turf to be located near Bollinger Canyon Road.
Disclosure Alert: The editor, who happens to live near the college, and a few other residents of The Bluffs and Rheem Valley Manor neighborhoods, spoke against plans for a state-of-the-art sound system at the men's baseball field as well as the extended hours at the intramural field - citing past and current noise issues.
Edy Schwarz, president of the Moraga Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the proposal.
Along with the potential for noise and glare issues caused by 70-foot light stanchions overlooking the proposed new intramural field, the Design Review Board expressed concern with the configuration of the men's diamond as seen upon entering the campus at Saint Mary's Parkway.
Board Chair Allen Sayles and other board members expressed concern over the "walled off" look the outfield fences and a 60-foot-long "batters eye" wall would give entry to the college from Saint Mary's Parkway - an area known for its sweeping and open approaches to the chapel and school's central courtyard.
Board members said they hoped organic materials and landscaping could be utilized to soften the look of the approach - which all agreed was one of the most beautiful of any college campus in California.
In the end, both plans were approved with concern expressed for the possible impact of extended hours, the new lights, and noise. Town staff said that once built, the area would be monitored and that any impact on surrounding neighborhoods addressed.