The long-running, and sometimes acrimonious debate over whether Ursuline Academy can build a lighted soccer field finally ended this afternoon at City Hall.
After 12 years, Ursuline’s request for a lighted athletic field finally got the green light from a unanimous City Council vote, 14 to 0. The specific-use permit will come with some caveats, according to Rudolph Bush:
“…the Council approved the field on 2 acres of treed residential land after Ursuline promised to strictly limit the use of the lights. The school will keep the lights on until 9 p.m. no more than 20 nights a year. It will turn off the lights at 7:30 p.m. all other nights and will never have them lit on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Ursuline supporters descended on City hall to show support and even gave a standing ovation. Most neighbors were incredibly supportive of the lighted field, including Steve Giles, who is married to Channel 4 anchor Clarice Tinsley. A few neighbors, mostly on adjacent sprawling properties near the school at Walnut Hill Lane and Inwood Road, voiced concerns over light pollution, increased noise and traffic, what is sometimes called “an invasion of peace.” Days before today’s vote, they released two self-funded engineering studies claiming the field could not be built safely.
The lighted field would pose danger to the traffic and some danger to the girls on the field, which is only one car’s length from Inwood Road, said Bill Meyer, a leader of a group calling itself the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. There was also voiced concern over glare from the eight overhead soccer field lights, that they could blind drivers and cause accidents at the busy intersection.
In the audience giving full support was Allie Beth Realtor extraordinaire and Ursuline grad Maribeth Messineo Peters.
“The field will be privately funded by supporters of the school,” she writes on her Facebook page. “Go Bears!”
The Dallas City Council was set to vote on the issue last month, but the Catholic girls’ school put voting off while leaders worked to garner community and neighborhood support.
Back in February, the Dallas Plan Commission approved the field. Ursuline students have never had a soccer field, commuting to other schools to borrow fields for “home” games.
But the school wanted to be a good neighbor, and took the extra time to educate and inform the neighborhood even after receiving approval from the Dallas Plan Commission.
The neighbor’s concerns may have been genuine, but all they had to do was look at St. Mark’s and the surrounding neighborhood. Property values have only shot up as a result of being near the school campus despite wrestling tourneys, football games, soccer, baseball and every sport played on the campus. Nothing sweeter on a crisp fall night than the cheering and excitement of a home football game: that enhances the neighborhood.
Alas, Ursuline has no football, but alumn are delighted to finally have a lighted Athletic Field on campus!