By Denise Dunbar
City official 1: I have an idea – I think we should add lights to the T.C. Williams football stadium project.
City official 2: You know we can’t do that. The city promised those neighbors more than 50 years ago there would never be lights.
CO1: Says who? There’s no one alive today who can say the promise was made to them.
CO2: But there’s wives and children who say a promise was made to their husbands and fathers. Everyone thinks there was a pledge.
CO1: Two words: Urban legend.
CO2: But there’s at least two DSUPs that promise no lights in writing, including when the new T.C. Williams was built and again when tennis courts were built and lighted.
CO1: DSUPs are made to be changed. All it takes is a majority vote on city council.
CO2: But those neighbors aren’t going to take this lying down. They might sue the city. We’ll get bad publicity – and spend boatloads of money. Are you sure?
CO1: We could make things even more interesting.
CO2: Uh oh. Not sure I like the sound of that.
CO1: We’re not limited to just adding puny lights. We could make the light poles 80 feet instead of 60. We could allow games on the field every day for any sport instead of just Friday nights for football. We could rent the field out. The possibilities are endless.
CO2: But the people who would be most bothered by the lights are from families that have been moved by the city for urban renewal. They were moved to build the original T.C. Williams High School.
CO1: Maybe, but I bet the loudest complainers would be the rich people who live nearby.
CO2: So the field would be used every day? How late?
CO1: Well, we have to be equitable. If the field could be used until 10 p.m. on Fridays for football, we would want it to be used until 10 p.m. every night for other sports too. We can’t discriminate against our girls.
CO2: But we could do it the other way, and limit it to 8:30 p.m. every night, including Fridays, instead of 10 p.m. That would be a lot less intrusive for neighbors. Older people and families with small kids would be a lot less bothered by an earlier end time.
CO1: I don’t think so. We want to get maximum use from the fields.
CO2: I don’t know. A lot of people would be really upset. We should at least be open to compromise.
CO1: Oh, we would compromise.
CO2: Really, how?
CO1: Hmm, let’s see. I know! We could build a nice fence. And … how about we designate someone to take calls from the neighbors when they’re mad about the lights and noise at 10 p.m.?
CO2: I don’t think that would satisfy them.
CO1: Maybe not.
CO2: Then why do you think we should push ahead with this?
CO1: Because we can.
Note: This column is a work of fiction. The characters depicted are fictitious. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or deceased, is purely coincidental.
The writer is publisher and executive editor of the Alexandria Times.