Letter: A Light on a Promise

Letter: A Light on a Promise

To the Editor:

It has come to my attention that those who oppose stadium lights at T.C. Williams High School are being described as “racially motivated” by some proponents of the lights. The implication is that lighting opponents are wary of people of various ancestries playing on the field after dark, something that would be possible with a lighted stadium.

Such talk does a tremendous disservice to the African-American families who are the immediate neighbors of the high school campus, residents who live on Woods Avenue, Woods Place and along Quaker Lane, often called “The Woods Community.” This neighborhood, into which the school property is shoehorned, has suffered repeated indignities. Present residents are the offspring of the black community created after the Civil War on what is now Fort Ward Park. A second settlement was on what is now Chinquapin Park and, indeed, the TC campus. Residents were ousted by eminent domain from their homes and some resettled in the Woods neighborhood.

When the original TC was built, Woods residents were promised no stadium lights and it had none. When it was rebuilt in 2004, the same promise was made by city and school officials. The promise was codified as Condition #85 of the “special use permit” that permitted the construction of the new school. That condition was modified last December to allow lights on a tennis court that is located away from neighbors but the ban on stadium lights was reaffirmed. Now the School Board, just six months later, is considering a change that would allow lights and disrupt the lives of this African-American community once again. It bespeaks a rampant insensitivity toward the residents.

The Seminary Hill Association, Inc., (SHA) of which I am past president and current treasurer, has respected this neighborhood as an integral part of our area. The association has supported the Woods Community wholeheartedly down through the years and sought to preserve and maintain its quality of life, cognizant of its history. With the residents, SHA has opposed the stadium lights vigorously and will continue to do so. Perhaps we are “racially motivated” because we oppose seeing the Woods residents being pushed around yet again, regardless of the declared high-minded motives of those who are behind the pushing.

Jack Sullivan