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T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, Va.

Neighbors sue Alexandria (Va.) district to stop installation of stadium lighting

The suit says installing lights at the T.C. Williams High School football stadium would violate a 50-year-old agreement between the district and the neighborhood.

A group of nine residents who live near an Alexandria, Va., high school is suing the school district to stop installation of lights at the football stadium.

WJLA-TV reports that the suit, brought by neighbors of T.C. Williams High School, contends the stadium lights would violate a 50-year-old agreement that cleared the way for construction of the school.

“For me, I don’t think it’s a good idea to have the lights there,” says Judy Smith, who’s not a plaintiff, but has lived in the neighborhood for decades. “When they do have functions over there, football games or practice, you can hear a lot of noise.”

The stadium has seen better days. It has no bathrooms, the turf has worn out, the press box has been condemned, and the track is outdated. The lack of stadium lighting has meant no home games at night.

In May, district officials proposed a $5 million upgrade. In addition to replacing turf, replacing the press box and scoreboard, and adding bathrooms and a concession stand, the plan called for installing four permanent 87-foot light towers.

The lawsuit contends that city and school officials promised there would be no stadium lights as a trade-off to acquire land for T.C. Williams during the early and mid-1960s. The plaintiffs cite a 2004 Alexandria Department of Planning and Zoning recommendation which says:

“The schools have agreed that there will be no permanent lighting installed at the stadium behind the schools, or on any athletic fields on the site, and a condition is included in staff’s recommendation reflecting that agreement.”

The suit says that despite the long-standing agreement, the district submitted a formal request in May for a zoning variance to allow the installation of the light towers.

The residents are seeking a permanent court order stopping the city and the Alexandria school district from continuing efforts to get the lights installed.

The district declined comment on the lawsuit, but issued a statement about the proposed stadium upgrade:

“These proposed updates are intended to bring T.C. Williams High School into line with other high schools in the Northern Virginia area. [The district] has actively engaged the neighbors and wider community around every aspect of the project over the course of the past year and a half.”

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