City Council approved upgrades to the Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium at T.C. Williams High School, including the addition of field lighting, on Saturday, Oct. 13.
After eight hours of public comment and deliberation, council voted six to one in favor, with Mayor Allison Silberberg voting no.
Stadium upgrades include the addition of an eighth lane of track; replacement of the artificial turf; the addition of restrooms; a new concession stand; a ticket booth; replacement and relocation of the scoreboard; egress safety lighting; a new press box; an upgraded sound system; and field lighting.
The new lighting has been a controversial topic, largely due to a commitment from city government to neighbors not to install field lighting, put in writing in 2004. Several residents believe the city now isn’t honoring its commitment.
In the preceding vote on Saturday, council also amended the zoning ordinance to allow higher light poles at the stadium, as well as at other “congregate recreational facilities” citywide. This amendment also drew controversy, as certain residents felt the city government had not adequately engaged them during the planning process.
On Thursday, Oct. 11, the School Board passed a resolution “committed to mitigating the impact of the Parker-Gray stadium on neighbors.” Measures include, among others, a “permanent forum” to resolve future disputes between the high school and neighboring residents; a “community liaison” on call 24/7 “to address community concerns;” and rules restricting use of the stadium’s sound system.
Work on upgrading the stadium is expected to begin in spring 2019 and take seven months to complete.