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Board approves light installation
After hours of discussion, the Southlake Carroll trustees unanimously approved installing lights at the baseball and softball fields located at Carroll Senior High.
Hundreds of residents and parents of Dragon softball and baseball players attended Monday night's meeting to voice their opinion on the light installations. In the end, the school board approved installing the lights, but with several stipulations aimed at appeasing the nearby homeowners.
"We want to be good neighbors and to work through the process, but it's a tough issue for trustees," said Julie Thannum, executive director of communications and marketing for Carroll ISD. "We understood the homeowners' issues, and we have tried to work with neighbors through the years. A lot of people went by verbal statements, and I think there has been a lot of miscommunication. We voted to put the lights up to support our students. The district is trying hard to make sure the impact is as small as possible to homeowners."
Thannum said will work toward an agreement that limits the field use during the night to UIL activities, meaning the district may rent out the fields, but not for nighttime games. The district will also limit nighttime games. It is also working with its fellow UIL schools to begin nighttime games no later than 7. She said the district also intends to extend the landscape buffer.
"The administration was also asked to set PA system limits and to turn off half of the lights during field maintenance to minimize the impact to residents," Thannum said. "We hope all these things show our good faith to offer the opportunity to our students to play nighttime home games and be a good neighbor. I do know some of them [homeowners] were disappointed by last night's vote."
Homeowners argued that the lights would harm property values and quality of life. While Dragon parents said the students have had to miss class for games.
"This vote means that our students who had to previously miss classes for games won't have to do so anymore. It also means increased support from fans and the student body because the games will be at night," said Jamie Wimberly, parent volunteer. "I'm pleased with this decision. Our position has always been that we are sympathetic with the homeowners' concerns, and we believe concessions can be made. Our group is ready to go to work to help offset any concerns with fundraising. We're ready to follow district guidelines."
Wimberly is the mother of a junior softball player and a freshmen baseball player. She said this is what the children want and deserve. She said the idea to install lights began on March 17, which was senior day. She said after the softball team had to play back-to-back Saturday games, the parent began to voice questions.
"It was strictly a matter of parents saying why aren't we playing under lights? Because I have a son in the baseball program, I have friends in the program, and we started talking about this as well," Wimberly said. "The parents have wanted this for many years. It grew, and we formed a committee in May and spoke to the district during public comments. There has never been a parent led request to install lights.
To the neighbors I'd like to say that this is not softball versus neighbors, this is neighbors versus the district, and the softball parents asking the district for something for our children."
Trustees voted unanimously at the Nov. 13 meeting to set aside funds from the 2009 bond program to install lights for the baseball and softball fields at either the Carroll High School campus or the Carroll Senior High School campus. The administration came up with several possibilities, including building a new facility near Dragon Stadium, installing lights at Carroll High School and forming a partnership with the city to use existing and future fields at city parks.
The lights will be paid through 2006 bonds. In addition, the district will construct water well on the field site to upkeep landscaping, which will be paid for through remaining 2009 bonds.
Thannum said the district will immediately start the process to go before the city. She said the goal is to try to be for the 2013 season.
"We'll have a big presence of parents at the city council. It's important that the city understands our position," Wimberly said. "We feel that the district can best decide what's best for the district, and we hope they support the district's decision."