Residents near the new Summit Ball Fields had their wishes about stadium lights heard at a recent city council meeting.
The Maple Valley City Council approved the hours of which the lights at the new Summit Ball Fields will be on until during the May 13 council meeting. Those hours include 9 p.m. on weeknights, Sunday to Thursday, and then 10 p.m. on the weekend, Friday and Saturday night.
The city will revisit the issue again in one year to see how the shut off times work for the local athletic community.
Summit Park is going to be the newest edition to the city and has been in the works for several years. Construction started in 2018 and the completion date is estimated to be June, according to the city’s Facebook.
Community discussion about when the stadium lights at the park will be shut off started during an April 15 work session. The options for hours of operation include, 9 or 10 p.m. during the weekdays and 1o or 11 p.m. for the weekends.
According to Parks and Recreation Director Dave Johnson, during the meeting the council asked the parks staff to figure out the hours of operation at other parks in other cities, specifically the city of Renton and also when Tahoma High School shuts its lights off as well.
To get the public’s opinion on the matter, the city hosted a public comment period during the May 13 meeting.
Seven community members who live near the park spoke up about what time they think the lights should shut off.
Maple Valley Resident Richard Bouffard said he lives “literally” 50 feet from where Summit Park’s fields start. He explained that he has a daughter who goes to bed at around 8:30 or 9 p.m. on weeknights and would prefer it if the lights shut off at 9 p.m on weeknights and then 10 p.m. on weekends.
He explained the biggest concern for him and his family is the noise that would occur right next to their home.
Another community member, Angie Houser, said she and her husband are long time residents of Maple Valley and were mostly concerned with the hours extending to 11 p.m on the weekends.
She was also concerned about the distance of the park from her neighborhood and the comparison the city did on other cities’ lights does not do them justice.
So, Houser did some research of her own.
“The Parks and Recreation Department’s research on park hours and other municipalities fail to consider the distance from which homes are located to these park,” Houser explained. “For example, while Ravendales Park hour extend to 11 p.m., the nearest home is over 100 feet away and there are only two homes in that distance. Petrovitsky Park has homes approximately 75 feet from the fields and their hours only extend until 10 p.m. for the whole week.”
She concluded that she and her family prefer the park lights shut off at 9 p.m. during weekdays and 10 p.m. during the weekends.
The council concluded in a 5-2 vote the lights should turn off at 9 p.m. during the week and then in a 7-0 vote decided that the lights should stay on until 10 p.m. during weekends.
Deputy Mayor Dana Parnello said by having the park’s lights shut off at an early time, it will impact the sports community as a whole because they won’t have as much time to play their sport. Parnello voted against the 9 p.m. shut off time.
Johnson said most adult leagues that play on the weekdays don’t start their games until 6 p.m..
By having the park lights off at 9 p.m., that would only give athletes three hours of play time.
City Manager Laura Philpot suggested the council make a final decision on what time the lights will be shut off at, and then come back to the topic in a year to see what sort of comments the community has about the matter, and then change the times if needed.
“Having the ballfields is something new for our system,” Johnson said. “Having cutoff time if you will, at 9 p.m. during the week does become somewhat challenging for scheduling, but it’s something that we’re willing to work with and as the comment was, ‘try it out for a year,’ and then revisit it at that time.”
Lights are on a time systems, would shut them off at like 9:05 to ensure people get off before the lights go off. – Dave