Alexandria’s City Council voted Saturday, October 13, 2018 siding (6-1) with the planning commission’s recommendation to proceed with the modernization of the Parker-Grey Stadium project at T.C. Williams High School.
The project calls for lighting taller than 60 feet, concessions, lights, bleachers, restrooms, a press box, and upgraded turf & track.
Stadium Initiative supporters signed and submitted over 1000 petitions to City Council asking them to bring the school into present day like other school fields, and to ignore a promise made in the mid sixties to area residents that the sports complex at the school would never have lights.
Petitions argued that LED lighting is better than what existed fifty years ago and that light pollution would be kept at a minimum. Times have changed, they argued, and so has technology. They also stressed the greater good for Alexandria and the potential for an elevated profile with the newer and updated facility.
A lawsuit filed by area residents in August 2018 alleges there were never to be lights, and so none should be erected. The suit claims a pledge originates from 1965 when the school was built in the Seminary neighborhood owned by African Americans who had settled there after the Civil War. Many residents were displaced when eminent domain was enforced, and approximately 24 new homes were built available for purchase by those whose land was used for the school.
The lawsuit alleges the no-lights promise was made because the school was built on less than 25 acres, as is usually required by state law.
Mayor Allison Silberberg abstained from voting. Council members Del Pepper, John Chapman, Tim Lovain, Paul Smedberg, John Chapman and Vice Mayor Justin Wilson joined in the affirmative.