By Bonnie and Bill Rossello, Alexandria
The neighbors of T.C. Williams are right to be concerned about installing lights at the high school’s football field, but a reasonable compromise should be possible.
Their valid concerns include glare, noise, unauthorized users and the frequency of the lights’ use. Meanwhile, neighbors have spoken to the sanctity of T.C.’s existing special use permit, as if these are never amended.
There’s also been misinformation disseminated by at least one civic association president that the lights would cost as much as $4 million and about an alleged city scheme to rent the field 365 nights a year. The latter is a far-fetched notion given the city’s existing capacity at six other fields.
This debate should be about finding a solution for the thousands of T.C. students, parents, alumni and fans that also addresses valid neighbor concerns. That solution should include installing state-of-the-art light and sound systems, minimizing light bleed, glare and noise. A line of fast growing trees should be planted along the fence lines. Nighttime use should be limited to weeknight T.C. games that end at a reasonable hour. The lights should be off completely and the field locked on the other (approximately 325) nights.
Let’s install the lights — and govern nighttime field use — in a responsible manner that is respectful of the neighbors’ valid concerns. If we do, citizens of Alexandria will be able to come together more often and in greater numbers to celebrate our young athletes (like T.C.’s state champion boys soccer team), enjoy a night out and, for a couple of hours every once in a while, revel in being one community.
We could all use more of that.