Your View: Lights at T.C. would renege on city’s promise to neighbors

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Your View: Lights at T.C. would renege on city’s promise to neighbors
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By Jack Sullivan, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
It was disappointing to see Alexandria City School Board chairwoman Karen Graf in your pages advocating breaking a commitment she herself made that there would not be lights at the T.C. Williams stadium (“Thinking outside the box to achieve T.C. Williams stadium upgrade,” January 7). That promise was incorporated in Clause No. 85 of the special use permit for the 2004 construction of the new T.C. William High School. The provision says, and I quote, “No permanent lights shall be installed at the school stadium…”

In 2004, this language, after being agreed upon with neighbors, was proposed by ACPS administrators. The school board and the city’s planning staff approved it. The city planning commission adopted the provision in the DSUP. Then city council gave it a final imprimatur. Late in 2013, in an amendment to the T.C. DSUP, once again the same process was followed. School administrators confirmed the language in Clause No. 85 and agreed to continue to ban permanent lights at the stadium. The school board, including Graf, concurred. So did city planning staff and the planning commission. City council approved continuing the ban.

In short, 10 times — five times within three years — city officials formally and without objection have agreed that there should be no lights at Parker-Gray Stadium. A promise was made to neighbors, a commitment. Now a move is afoot to trash the agreement.

The predominantly African-American Woods Street neighborhood, to whom the commitment was made, has been a valued part of the Seminary Hill Association, Inc., for decades. The association, through its board upon which I serve, has stood up for these folks in the past and, I believe, will do all it can to combat the effort to throw out the city’s promise to these residents of Alexandria. Graf may not take her commitments seriously but many others do.

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