SOUTHLAKE — Dragon baseball and softball players cheered as the City Council voted unanimously to allow lights on the fields at Carroll Senior High School just before 1 a.m. this morning.
The lights could be ready about the time the varsity season starts, said Derek Citty, associate superintendent of administrative services for Carroll ISD.
Audio: Carroll official addresses Planning and Zoning on lights in April 2010
A standing-room only crowd packed Town Hall for the controversial decision that pit Dragon athletes and parents against neighbors who dont want lights and noise from late- night games. Many in the crowd stuck around more than five hours to see the vote.
Senior Mac Morgan spoke on behalf of all the Dragon baseball players.
Every young ball player looks forward to the day when they play on the big field under the lights, he said. It is hard to put into words what playing my senior year under the lights with the stands full of family and friends would mean to me.
Junior softball player Alexa Wimberly said playing night games at the campus gives the Dragons a true home field advantage.
I know that many more of my friends would be willing to attend, she said.
The district will install six 60-foot light poles on the softball field and another eight lights on the baseball field ranging from 70 to 90 feet. Both fields are existing but couldnt be used at night. Carroll ISD asked for a variance because the lights didnt comply with the citys ordinance.
Trustee president Read Ballew explained the inadequacies and inconveniences Dragon athletes endure because there are no lights on the field. Baseball games are played at 4 p.m., forcing players to miss class time while hiring substitutes to fill in for coaches.
That makes it hard for umpires, family members and fellow students to attend the games, Ballew said.
Softball games are played at the citys recreational facility at Bob Jones Park, which lacks basic amenities that most varsity facilities have.
The inadequate facilities for female athletes could be a Title IX violation, said Derek Citty, associate superintendent for administrative services.
The school board wasnt aware of the less than optimum situation until parents approached them last year, Ballew said.
But residents in Stone Lakes and Park Place showed up en masse to oppose the lights, saying it would reduce property values and cause a nuisance.
Unlike previous meetings, they didnt wear red, showing they arent opponents, they just want to protect their quality of life.
They have cited decades of promises that lights wouldnt be installed on the field and questioned the funding of the lights using 2006 bond dollars.
Citty countered the district and neighborhoods found no written agreements prohibiting lights.
Ray Semadeni, who lives in Park Place, asked if the council would allow lights like this for a big box store. Treat this like any other request. Take the emotion out of it, he said. Homes are as close as 60 feet from the field.
On Monday, trustees passed a resolution unanimously saying the lights will be used for no more than 25 regular season night games, not counting postseason, Citty said. Trustees also voted Monday night to add $100,000 worth of landscaping to screen the baseball and softball fields from the neighbors.
Trustees will have a special meeting Thursday to vote on purchasing the lights, estimated to cost about $331,000, Citty said. It will take about 45 to 60 days to install the lights, he said.
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