Ballfield Slated For Lights Next To Lee High

Ballfield Slated For Lights Next To Lee High

As Jeff Bronder, coach and manager for the Central Springfield Little League White Sox, loaded the car with son Hunter, 12, and teammate Aaron Puller, 10, he looked at the proposal to light one of the fields behind his house in Lee High Park as a positive.

"I think it's more for girls softball. We practice there," Bronder said.

A couple of doors down, David Pearson's back yard also borders the park. He heard the proposal and tried to find more information on the Fairfax County Park Authority Web site on how many lights it wants to put in and the hours, but he was unsuccessful. Pearson plans to attend the April 12 meeting addressing the light proposal.

"We can see the lights on the other side," Pearson said of the Lee High School football field. "It's no problem."

Lee High Park is wedged between the Springfield Estates community across from Springfield Mall, and Lee High School. Two baseball fields are at the park and one soccer field, which some used to be call the "rockpile," according to Jeff Bilker at the Fairfax County Community and Recreation Services.

Looking at the layout, Bilker wondered whether lights on the sidelines would be enough. The outfields on the two baseball fields touch to some extent.

"You'd almost have to put a light out in the field there," Bilker said.

Sandy Spallman, of the Fairfax County Park Authority Department of Planning and Development, noted the technology involved in the lights it uses now. The lights don't affect the surrounding area as much as the lights that surround the football field at Lee.

The amount of obtrusiveness, or effect on the surrounding area, is called "light spill" in the engineering world.

"The technology has improved so much," Spallman said. "It's a lot less obtrusive than it used to be."

"There are devices, cut-offs, that reduce glare," said Spallman.

The April 12 meeting is an opportunity for citizens to voice concerns on the light proposal, according to park spokesperson Judy Pederson. Although each field is unique as far as the use and hours, Pederson noted the Park Authority’s rule in general. The hours will be part of the negotiations.

"Generally, 11 p.m. is the cut-off," Pederson said.

The Lee High School girls softball team is the main user of the field at Lee High. Bilker said others use it as well. The Fairfax County Church League softball and the West Springfield Little League are two leagues that have used the baseball fields at Lee High in the past, and the Springfield Youth Club has used the soccer field.

"It is definitely going to expand the capacity," Bilker said of the lights.

Pederson said that having schools using park ball fields is common around the county. At Cub Run near Dulles Airport, school use of the swimming facilities was part of the negotiations when the Cub Run recreation center was approved.

"When there's a park in proximity to a school, that's relatively common," Pederson said.

Lee junior Brendan Mahoney noticed other fields that have houses around them, too.

"There is nothing different about it than South Run [park]. All their fields but one are lit, and there's houses around there," Mahoney said.