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November 2, 2020 - Lights Approved at T.C. Williams Parker-Gray Stadium
For the first time in its 55 year history, the Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School is set to get permanent lights, resulting from a collaborative process to resolve all outstanding complaints against the school division.
Earlier today, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne approved a consent decree memorializing the agreement that resulted from mediation between Woods Avenue and Bishop Lane residents, the City of Alexandria, and Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), allowing night time activities at the soon-to-be renovated Parker-Gray Stadium to be illuminated.
The agreement means that students at T.C. Williams will be able to enjoy Friday night lights, a U.S. high school tradition, and host games and practices after dark for the first time.
“I am delighted that our students will now have access to the modern facilities that will promote school spirit and enhance their social and athletic experience. This is a momentous day and I now look forward to moving on and focusing our attention on supporting our students in achieving the successes they have come to expect both on and off the field,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Under the agreement, ACPS can use the lights to illuminate games 50 nights each year. This can include multiple games on one night, and excludes use of the lights during the day for rain or fog. Lighted games can go as late as 9:45 p.m. on weekdays and 10:15 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, as long as the lights are turned off within 15 minutes of the game ending. The lights will be limited to ACPS use only. The agreement also includes any postseason games and practices until 7:45 p.m.
The agreement firms up some of the measures initially outlined in the Development Special Use Permit (DSUP) approved by the City Council in October 2018. It allows for residential neighbors of T.C. Williams to resolve any issues with ACPS through negotiation and mediation over a period of 40 years.
ACPS can now move ahead to install the lights on the field as part of the current modernization of the stadium. The $4.97 million sports facility is currently under construction and expected to be completed by March 2021. Student athletes will benefit from an impressive athletic facility boasting an eight-lane running track, new restrooms, a new concessions building, a modernized press facility, ticket booth, new artificial turf, and a new scoreboard, as well as egress safety lighting.
An upgraded sound system that disperses the sound via multiple speakers and directs it away from houses will also be installed. Amplified sound is permitted only for varsity games, however, and is limited to the current residential maximum under the Alexandria City Code.
“Our students will truly benefit from this decision. They will now be able to play games under lights for the first time in the school’s history and make the most of this great facility. This will make scheduling both practices and games much easier for our athletes,” said ACPS Director of Athletics and Student Activities James Parker.
The previous incarnation of the stadium was inadequate for a school with an enviable athletic department that has produced world class sports stars including track and field athletes Noah and Josephus Lyles and Tynita Butts. It lacked the basic facilities with no restrooms and a condemned press box.
- The lights can be used for 50 game nights (which may include one or two games per night) per academic year, plus any postseason games. That limit does not apply to situations where lights are turned on during the day or afternoon for rain, overcast or fog.
- Lighted games can go as late as 9:45 p.m. on weekdays (Monday through Thursday) and 10:15 p.m. on weekends (Friday and Saturday). There are to be no lights on Sundays. Lights must be turned off within 15 minutes of the end of the game.
- Lights can be used for ACPS in-season athletic team practices to 7:45 p.m. every day except Sunday. Teams have previously scrambled for lighted practice space elsewhere in the city during the fall and early spring.
- Amplified sound is permitted only for varsity games, and limited to the current residential maximum under the Alexandria City Code.
- Only ACPS athletic teams will have access to use the lights.
- A multi-step administrative dispute resolution process has been set up for any disagreements which occur with respect to compliance with the legal agreement or certain DSUP conditions.
- The term of the agreement is 40 years.
“This agreement is a demonstration of how we can all be good neighbors and work together to ensure we achieve the outcomes we all seek. I look forward to continuing this positive collaboration with our neighbors and our community through our quarterly meetings to ensure our students’ needs are met,” said T.C. Williams principal Peter Balas.
See the full legal agreement (PDF).