The Arlington County Board pushed back a decision on lighting athletic fields near Williamsburg Middle School, so plans can be studied further by county staff.
The Board’s unanimous 5-0 vote came after almost six hours of public testimony and discussion by opponents and proponents of the lights, with many opponents wearing matching green shirts. It means any decision on lights will be delayed to next year.
Instead of following staff’s initial recommendation to fund lighting the fields, Board members voted for County Manager Mark Schwartz to further study ways to increase the county’s stock of athletic fields, including through the use of synthetic turf and lights.
The study will include drawing on a section of the Williamsburg Field Working Group Final Report that concerns how to evaluate potential field lighting.
Schwartz announced in June he is recommending lights for the fields near Williamsburg Middle School and Discovery Elementary School in Rock Spring. He recommended that the two fields be lit with shielded LED lights that could be dimmed during evening play, and that lights be left on no later than 9:45 p.m. He suggested 84 lights installed on six 80-foot poles.
Board vice chair Katie Cristol said further study should take into account field usage and impacts on neighborhoods (referred to as “externalities”), as well as the usage of fields by those who live nearby.
“It seems appropriate to me that those who derive the benefits should also look to bear the externalities,” Cristol said. “I think it is appropriate that we bring both the benefits and the externalities, such as they are, to the users where they are.”
But the moods of some Board members began to fray towards the end of the discussion. John Vihstadt tried to add language to avoid what he described as the “singling out” of Williamsburg Middle School and give the study a broader context. But Cristol and others objected.
“To me the question is, what do we do with five years of community input, with countless hours of staff work, hundreds of thousands of dollars in analyses spent?” Cristol asked. “We’re simply going to throw that out and start with a new process? The question becomes: what more info does this Board need to make a decision on the question before us?”
The Board also directed Schwartz to study amending the county’s Zoning Ordinance to allow lights above the current maximum height of 68 feet, thus not requiring a special approval process. Board member Christian Dorsey expressed some reservations about directing “a study that already determines an outcome,” but the study will proceed.
“The whole idea that we would direct at the moment that we’re going to have a study with an outcome really doesn’t give it a whole lot of credence,” he said.
Divisions on the topic were apparent in both public testimony and the slew of letters about the project submitted by county commissions both in support and against. Opponents say lights are incompatible with the residential neighborhood, would create more traffic and light pollution while damaging wildlife and trees.
Dorsey said it was not so simple as to term opponents as “NIMBY” neighbors and supporters as youth sports advocates. He noted that there are no “neat boxes” on an issue like this.
“I think it would be a mistake to go away from this process thinking only that the people who oppose lights are NIMBYs, and the people who favor lights don’t care about neighborhoods,” Dorsey said.
Board chair Jay Fisette and colleague Libby Garvey expressed a willingness to vote for lighting the fields, citing the work at Wakefield High School to mitigate the lights shining on nearby houses as proof the technology has evolved.
Fisette noted “disappointment in the room” from all: opponents who wanted the lights plan nixed altogether and proponents who wanted them approved that day. The direction for further study means any decision will not be made until next year.
“We’ll all be back again, someday,” Vihstadt said. “And hopefully we’ll all find a better place.”
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 11985 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
Wednesday is forecast to be a “Code Orange” day in Arlington and across the D.C. area. That’s according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which says local air quality…
(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) When Braylon Meade died in a car crash, a juvenile court judge handed down a sentence of one year of incarceration and two years of probation…
Are you looking for a flexible master’s degree that will help you advance in your career? Consider George Mason University’s Global Commerce and Policy master’s program! Broader than an MBA…
🌿 𝐄𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐝 𝐌𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫: 𝐑𝐞𝐣𝐮𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐁𝐨𝐝𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐥 🌿Local business is the heart of a strong community, and at Emerald Massage Center, we’re proud to be a vital part of that heartbeat. Our passionate team of Licensed Massage Therapists is dedicated to providing you with a sanctuary of relaxation, rejuvenation, and renewal.🌟 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐖𝐞 𝐎𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫 🌟Our wide range of massage services includes Swedish, deep tissue, prenatal, sports massage, hot stone, aromatherapy, and more — all tailored to your individual needs. Whether you’re seeking relief from stress, muscle tension, or chronic pain, our skilled therapists will help you achieve total wellness.🏆 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 🏆Your satisfaction is our top priority, and we’re committed to providing a clean, comfortable, and serene environment for you to unwind. We use only the highest-quality natural products to ensure a luxurious experience that nourishes your body and mind.💚 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐋𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐁𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 💚By choosing Emerald Massage Center, you’re not only investing in your well-being but also strengthening our community. We appreciate your support and are grateful for the opportunity to serve you.Book your appointment today and discover the transformative power of Emerald Massage Center. Together, we can create a healthier, happier, and more connected community. 💆🏻♀️💆🏽🍃✨ Visit www.EmeraldMassageCenter.com to schedule your rejuvenating session now! ✨
Join MoCA Arlington Summer Camps at Marymount University and learn the fundamentals of handbuilding, throwing on a wheel, glazing, and much more. In this two-week course, students will explore hand building techniques, wheel throwing, and strengthen ideas that exemplify individual artist expression guided by professional working artists. Students of all skill levels are welcome!
Visit MoCA Arlington’s Website here and the registration page to secure your space today!
Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved
Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved.
Join ACFCU’s mortgage loan officers
4th of July Celebration & Fireworks
Treat yourself this Independence Day with a world-class, private 4th of July extravaganza at the Military Women’s Memorial – a premier National Capital Region site.
Great food, fun, and the best views of Washington DC’s spectacular fireworks display. Relax, enjoy,