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Alexandria planning more community discussions for plans to light athletic fields

Alexandria City High School Friday Night Lights at Alexandria City High School on September 17, 2021. (Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.)

The City of Alexandria is planning to host a meeting later this month to discuss plans to light athletic fields around the city.

The idea behind adding lighting is to provide additional capacity to accommodate an increasing strain on the city’s fields. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 21 at the Patrick Henry Recreation Center (4653 Taney Avenue).

“The addition of athletic field lighting will provide additional capacity to accommodate current and increasing scholastic and community program needs within the City’s fixed field resources,” a release said. “The project will support the City Council 2022 Community Priority to Support Youth and Families by expanding for capacity for youth programs, and the City’s goal of providing equitable access to facilities and services.”

But the prospect has already been met with some community pushback from neighbors who say the lights create a nuisance, in part because they allow athletic activities to continue late into the evening. Plans to light an athletic field at Alexandria City High School were the subject of a long-running battle between the school system and neighbors that was eventually settled in 2020, with games played under the new lights starting in 2021.

The City Council has already approved funding for the lighting of two athletic fields pending a special use permit approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. The release said the lighting of additional fields would likely be a three-to-five-year process.

City staff said in earlier meetings that there are three fields that could be lighted as early as FY 2023:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road
  • George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Jefferson Houston K-8 School, 1501 Cameron Street

Two other fields, one at Patrick Henry K-8 School and Recreation Center (4643 and 4653 Taney Avenue) and Eugene Simpson Stadium Park (426 East Monroe Avenue) can’t be lighted until 2024 and 2025 respectively.

“If you are unable to attend the public hearing, comments will be accepted by mail or email [[email protected]] until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, 2022,” the release said. “Please mail written comments to RPCA, ATTN: Jack Browand, 1108 Jefferson Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.”

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