Edmonds Considers Installing Bleachers and Fences (But Not Field Lights) in Renovated Field

The Edmonds (WA) school district is deliberating about whether to install field lights in a local baseball field at a former high school.

MyEdmondsNews.com reports that Phil Olberchts, the City of Edmonds Hearing Examiner, recommended to the school board on April 10th that they should not install field lights as part of a planned restoration project. However, he did recommend that bleachers and ball control fencing be installed.

Specifically, the district is drawing up the details of its conditional use permit application for the field, located at the former Woodway High School. Some citizens of Edmonds, a city located approximately 20 miles north of Seattle, are concerned that the proposed 70-foot field lights would result in excessive use of the field.

Such increased use “has the potential for generating traffic that is significantly detrimental to public safety and welfare,” Olberchts said.

Olberchts based his opinion on a two-and-a-half hour public hearing held on April 1st in which several Edmonds residents expressed concerns about the lighting, noise, and traffic the field lights could produce. He also consulted a traffic engineering report regarding the renovation proposals which stated that “both national and local trip generation studies of similar multipurpose fields experience heavy demand throughout a majority of the year, especially when combined with field lighting to provide late afternoon/early evening tournaments, games and practice events on sports fields.”

“By enabling night time use, which can include peak hour traffic generation during winter months, the lights can dramatically alter the use and impacts of the playfields,” he said. “Those impacts should have been addressed in the conditional use permit review.”

Olberchts, however, was not concerned about the proposed bleachers and fencing for the field, claiming that while they “could result in increased use of the fields without the field lights, the record does not suggest that this increase would be significant.”

Assuming the fencing is approved, the district will most likely contract the job to one of the nearly 100,000 fencing construction and products businesses in the United States.

The project, in talks since 2005, has received more than $3 million in funding from various sources, including a $2.5 million grant from the Verdant Health Commission last year. The Edmonds City Council must approve of the construction, however, before it can commence. If approved, construction can start as soon as late May.


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