I watched the public hearing on modernization of the Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium at the City of Alexandria’s only high school. Earlier promises with adjacent property owners to not install lighting at the stadium were disregarded. The speakers who opposed the scale of the modernization raised valid concerns regarding lighting (coverage and duration), increased noise, use by outside groups, parking and security. Several of the speakers are neighbors raised reoccurring issues of trust and broken promises. Those in favor of lighting suggested the lack of field lighting deprived students of facilities available at other public school districts. (Most private high schools do not have lighted fields)
I was surprised with the 6-1 vote. There were a number of studies that should have been done before the vote. The transportation and parking study should have been updated and the noise study performed by the city should have included ambient noise before contracts are approved. However, the City Council wanted to expedite approval. The underlying issue is: do residents trust city officials and will staff implement the mitigation measures approved by the City Council. If the past is prologue, promises made will likely be later modified or waived due to project necessity or to save cost.
The City Council, city staff, Alexandria City Public Schools, and the Planning Commission should place a laser focus on citizen concerns and re-establish trust; e.g., Potomac Yard Metro, T.C. Williams stadium lights, plan, Karig Estate approval, Special Use Permit conditions.