Need Right Place for Lights

Need Right Place for Lights

To the Editor:

We hear over and over how students want a lighted field for

sports. Coaches and staff from the Rec Department express a need for

sports fields for the entire city. And Alexandria does need sports

facilities for everyone. Alexandria does need playing fields and green


But Parker Gray Stadium behind T.C. Williams High School is not the place

for a lighted field. This field was never intended to be lit from the

time it was built. Its very proximity to the surrounding homes shows us

all that. The field is the buffer area between the school and the


When the School Board had the option to relocate the field as part of

the design for the new high school, they chose not to, because they

never intended to light this particular field. Instead, in 2007, they

reiterated the promise made to never light the Parker Grey Stadium by

making it part of the site plan for the school.

There are tremendous drawbacks to lighting this particular field.

Primarily, there is the commitment made to the historic neighborhoods

surrounding the school. This field would not be lit. There are ethical

and moral implications to breaking this promise.

Second is the prohibitive cost; over $4.2 million and that’s only

an estimate. There are other uses for that kind of money that would

benefit all of the students in Alexandria, not just the select few who

play high school sports.

What about needs for the schools, like improved educational instruction,

additional teachers and counselors, more educational programs and

renovating existing schools? Over $4 million would go a long

way to improving our children’s future.

Lights will destroy land and home values for the homes that are near

this field. While Fairfax County has many lit fields, none is within

150 feet of residential homes. The Parker Grey Stadium track is within

seven feet of a property line.

The School Board is relying on information from a feasibility study that

used 20-year-old data instead of more recent data to determine zoning,

light spillage and some costs. The proposal ignores the long-standing

lighting ordinances for the city and the height restrictions for the


Also ignored are the guidelines for amending a site plan by imposing

huge financial cost and burden on neighborhoods whose families have

lived here long before there was a T.C. Williams High School.

The schools of Alexandria may indeed need a lighted field for their

sports, but Parker Grey Stadium is not the place. It was never built to

be lit.

There are other places more appropriate within the city: near George

Washington Middle School, which had a lighted field for years and near

Renew Alexandria to mention two.

What exactly are the priorities of this School Board to consider

spending over $4 million on a high school stadium? Why isn’t

this School Board behaving in a fiscally responsible way and why are

they so anxious to teach the children of Alexandria that promises and

commitments don’t matter if it’s inconvenient? These are not the moral

and ethical standards leaders of our city and school board should be


This School Board should consider building a new facility for these

students in an appropriate location, that doesn’t destroy surrounding

neighborhoods and the value of the homes that surround the school — for

many the most valuable asset they own.