To the Editor:
A community with good parks and adequate sports fields signals a city's strong values and commitment to the health and welfare of its citizens, both young and old. Never before has this been more important in Alexandria than now, as the School Board prepares to move forward the Parker-Gray Stadium project at T.C. Williams High School.
I served on the Parks and Recreation Commission for over two decades and during that time I helped lead a professional effort to document the shortfall the city had in serving the need for athletic fields for both our children and adults. We have made some headway in the last few years with several new fields in place, conversion of some grass fields to artificial turf and the installation of lights in a handful of locations. But these efforts have not come close to closing the gap in the demand.
And while we made some progress the need continues to grow primarily due to more children in the city and a greater percentage of them playing sports. The same little feet rapidly overfilling our classrooms also need places to play formally and informally.
Providing facilities for sports and recreation is something we want to encourage and, in my view, a health imperative for Alexandria. We want our young people to be developing life-long patterns through early participation in active play and team sports. Team sports undeniably teach invaluable lessons that will benefit our children later in life both at home and in the workplace.
Now that our city is virtually “built-out” with land becoming a very rare and expensive commodity, it is increasingly imperative that we fully develop our existing fields. This is one critical reason I’m in full support of the plan to fully modernize the Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams, the stadium of the much-storied Titans.
The proposed field rehabilitation at TC will include replacing the press box, expanding the concession stand, building much needed restrooms, replacing the sound system and, yes, installing stadium lights. Lights mean we can make much better use of the high school’s only field. And for the first time in more than three decades our Titans can play under lights, something most in this town would love to see again.
We are the only public high school in Northern Virginia without a lit stadium, without the camaraderie and excitement of night games. It is time for the citizens of this community to invest and give our kids the same high school experiences as the rest of Northern Virginia.
Cities that invest fully in these kinds of public resources gift the students at T.C. Williams now and those of future generations that will follow behind. While installing lights is critically needed, it is also exciting to think about our only high school, the largest campuses in the Commonwealth of Virginia, having a fully updated facility, one in which we can take great pride.
This field project has been in the planning stage for nearly five years. It has been carefully considered and, if built, will be tremendous resource for generations to come. The time has come for us to lend our voices in support.