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
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.