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July 15, 2021 – Neighborhood Forum

4: 00–5:00 p.m. Stadium Tour

5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Meeting at the School Library

Attendees:

William Goff, Mimi Goff, Steve Harkness, Kathy Harkness, Carter Flemming, Frances Terrell, Phylius Burks, Patty Moran, James Parker, Peter Balas, John Finnigan, Mark Eisenhour, John Contreras, Michael Burch

Agenda:

  1. Security Question: How does the elimination of SROs impact the school’s ability to track the students? Since there are almost 4,000 kids it seems likely the SRO was probably the first adult to know if there are any issues with students. Security needs to be a priority, not a second thought. There should be limitations on bags in the stadium and all activity should take place in the stadium, not in the woods, particularly after a game. Chinquapin needs to be closed at certain times as a deterrent to loitering after a game. All fields without athletics are closed after 7:00 p.m.

    Response: Each game will be monitored by a combination of Administrators, School Security Officers, Police Offices and staff members from the athletic department. Everyone will be outfitted with radios, supported by a system of cameras and a new program called Raptor that will be critically important if we have any incidents at stadium events. In addition to coverage in the stadium there will be officers assigned to both the parking garage and to Chinquapin Park to monitor vehicles arriving and departing from events. After hours we will still be able to monitor the stadium via cameras and we will have members of the overnight security staff checking on the stadium periodically. Citizens are encouraged to call security at 703-824-6690 if you observe anything. Finally, it was noted that the security will be moving from Minnie Howard to the campus of Ferdinand T. Day at 1703 North Beauregard.
  2. Synthetic field: Is it safe? Crushed hard stones are under the surface, turf is installed with a layer of sand and then a thick layer of rubber pellets. Is this equal to a normal grass field?

    Modern synthetic turf fields are generally safer than grass fields for several reasons. The gravel layer beneath the surface helps ensure that the fields drain efficiently. The sand layer keeps the “blades” of grass up right and helps the field mimic real grass as much as possible. The rubber pellets provide a more consistent level of cushioning especially when the temperature is cold and the ground begins to freeze.
  3. DSUP for stadium—Final Site Plan Issue

    The hearing and approval of the DSUP for the Stadium field by the City Council was 10/13/18. The DSUP certificate was issued on 1/3/19. The final site plan was also approved and released on 8/5/20. The site contained: turf field: lights, structural areas, mechanical sites, snack bar, entrance, sewer system, water systems, turf field, press box etc.

    In a community meeting on October 15, 2019 “Under condition 106 – stated “ACPS shall develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive landscape and fence improvement plan for the western and southern property lines between Parker–Gray Stadium and the adjacent residences. The landscape and fence plan will strengthen the visual buffer between the stadium and residences and provide a deterrent to scaling, light mitigation, and noise.”

    A fence structure with plantings is deemed necessary to mitigate light and noise. Enclosed please find the meetings with minimal discussion on the fence, as construction nears end the structure needs to be in place in order to have activities on the field since noise and glare would be an issue.

    Condition 12 deals with the current condition of the existing fence, debris-and planting shall be addressed within 6 months of the approved DSUP approval 7/3/20. (not done) The fence improvement for the neighborhood plan shall be implemented within one year (12 months) from release of the site plan which would allow fence to be erected and begin on 8/5/21 (12 months from the 8/5/21 allotted time).

    John Finnigan addressed the group on the status of the fence to be installed along the property line. He noted that there has been a significant rise in the cost of timber and supply chain issues that have forced ACPS to review the total cost and timeline for the completion of this project. He indicated that a new cost estimate will be required that accurately reflects the additional expense associated with the fence project since the funds were originally allocated. He stated that this new cost estimate would be completed over the next four weeks. He noted that the money for the fence project was a separate line item in the budget and there is a process that must be followed before additional money is allocated to account for the increase in costs associated with the fence. He mentioned that there is a contingency fund to handle cost escalation in the stadium projects and that this has been used to pay for change orders and potential enhancements to the project.
  4. There has been no attention in getting rid of the rodents that inhabit the Woods area—the removal of the pests has not been accomplished. I will have Andréa or Ky Mackey tell the story of the infestation of his house which has been discussed in length in every meeting but never fulfilled.

    Since our last neighborhood meeting, 14 rat trap boxes have been installed along the property line with a particular focus on the home belonging to the Lewis family. It was also acknowledged during the meeting that many of the boxes were covered when the construction began work on the landscaping aspect of the project behind the main building (bathrooms and storage). Additional boxes will be installed to replace those that have been covered by the construction activity.

Other topics:

Sound System: There were some questions from the group about the design of the sound system. Mr. Finnigan indicated sound studies were conducted along the property line and this information was used as the design was developed for the new sound system. Mr. Finnigan indicated that he would share the information from the sound studies that were conducted. He noted that the new system is going to produce a much clearer sound which will allow the school to operate the system at a lower volume. In addition, the system will be designed with a governing system which will prevent operators from turning up the volume beyond the prescribed levels.

Schedule and number of night games: Ms. Goff indicated that she would be keeping track of the number of times the lights are used for events and she asked who would be keeping track on the school side. Mr. Parked indicated that his office would keep track of the light use for the school side. He stated that the school is already aware, based on the schedule, how many times they will be using the lights during the regular season. He also noted, however, that there may be additional events depending on how the teams advance into postseason play. Mr. Parker also stated that he would continue to send out weekly schedule updates and his office would make sure the website is kept up to date.

Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. A tour before the meeting will be scheduled if needed.