Lighting The Path

The triple-header at the ballpark needs plenty of light, but if you leave those lights on long after the games, the neighbors will complain. Lighting for a soccer game differs from what is needed for a park path. Some people love the “mellow yellow” lights, while others prefer traditional, bright white bulbs.

Chris Behringer, Senior Urban Designer at the Minneapolis office of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., just finished a master plan for Branyard on a 112-acre “active” park. She says, “Within parks themselves, you have to address what kind of lighting they want. And what kind of a park is it–is it an active or passive park? And where are you in the scheme of things? If you are working in the Minnesota River valley, you want to look at the dark sky issues because you don’t want to have the lighting pollution along the river. So, there’s a lot of leg work in determining exactly what kind of lighting is needed. Each community has certain lighting levels that meet their expectations for different portions of roadways and parks.”

Environmental Issues

If you’ve ever seen a satellite picture of the United States at night, you know all about light pollution. Excess light spoils the view of the stars, confuses–and therefore potentially harms–wildlife, creates light trespass, wastes energy, and increases glare. Ironically, it also can reduce nighttime visibility. A typical unshielded light fixture loses 50 percent of its light upward. And much of the light squirts out horizontally, increasing glare. Only a small portion of the light actually illuminates the desired area.

A shielded, environmentally friendly light fixture eliminates upward light and minimizes glare. Typically, it needs a lower wattage bulb and directs light only where needed.

The light pollution issue in Carollton was lowered with Musco Lighting. Hyde says, “Once we put these lights in, it really controls the light; there’s no spill. All the light goes on the field rather than into the sky. There’s really no lighting outside the field itself. We have one complex that is around residential. And before if we had lights on late, it would spill into their backyards and into their windows. But now it can really control the light to stay on the fields. We don’t get the calls the next day about ‘Hey, your lights were left on all night.’”

Another environmentally friendly solution to lighting is solar power. It eliminates the need for unsightly wiring. Solar-powered lighting brings illumination to troublesome “dark spot” park areas, where it is difficult, expensive or impossible to run power lines. Benefits include an absence of electric meters, monthly bills and power company charges to bring electricity to the site. There are no land-use permission issues for carrying power across properties, or the inevitable delays caused by all these factors.

Good Lighting Is Good Business

Deciding on the right lighting can be an important step in creating the desired effect for a ballfield, a park or a bike path. It is important to consider all angles before making a decision, including safety, cost, types of lighting and environmental issues. If it is done correctly, lighting will be an asset to an establishment instead of a nuisance to neighbors.

Melanie Minch is a freelance writer in Medina, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at


Chris Behringer, Senior Urban Designer at the Minneapolis office at S.E.H.

“Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH®) is a multidisciplined firm of engineers, architects, planners and scientists known for our strong, comprehensive technical capabilities and superior client service. We have been a trusted resource for more than 80 years to local governments, state and regional agencies, federal, industrial and private clients. We build lasting relationships with clients and provide innovative solutions and service excellence. We have over 30 offices across the nation.” For more information check out their Web site at:

Corporate Office

Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.

3535 Vadnais Center Drive

St. Paul, MN55110-5196

Minneapolis Phone # 612-758-6700

“Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising–NJRS report to Congress 1997”

Chad Hyde, Athletic Director of Carollton, Texas

City of Carrollton

Parks & Recreation

4220 N. Josey Lane

Carrollton, Texas 75010

P.O. Box 110535

Carrollton, TX 75011-0535


972-466-4722 fax

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