We, the undersigned, support placing a lighted synthetic rectangular athletic field on the grounds of Williamsburg Middle School as part of the overall restoration of the site following construction of the new elementary school project. The WMS athletic fields currently serve a large and rapidly growing population of youth soccer players who live in northwest Arlington. The new elementary school will reduce the current scope of the existing fields at WMS, while increasing usage during school hours. Without synthetic turf, the grass fields, which are already stressed, will not survive the usage. At the same time, lighting a synthetic field will extend use and make up for lost field space. The Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation estimates that a lighted synthetic field can sustain five times the overall use of an unlighted grass field.
We are sensitive to the concerns of the local community. We believe that a lighted field at WMS should be limited to youth sports programming and have a curfew of 9:30 pm. The new parking lot for the elementary school will more than adequately service a lighted synthetic field, keeping cars from parking along the street and providing a suitable area for drop-off and pick-up. The central field at WMS would not directly abut any homes in the neighborhood. Dark sky lighting technology would limit any spillover from the field lighting.
A lighted synthetic field at WMS would serve the local neighborhood, become an attractive amenity for families with children, and enhance physical education and sports opportunities at both WMS and the new elementary school.