The Southlake City Council approved lighting for softball and baseball fields at Carroll Senior High School to cheers and applause at about 12:55 a.m. today.
The issue has divided the community for months, pitting neighbors of the school against parents of athletes.
Some 30 people spoke to the council, roughly half for and half against the lights. Another 142 submitted cards recording their support and 86 provided cards recording their opposition. Supporters and opponents packed council chambers with at least 100 people even at the end.
Opponents of the lights said they would keep them and their children awake; lower property values by millions; pose a danger because of the potential for the light poles to fail; and questioned whether the Carroll ISD would keep promises to plant and maintain trees as mitigation for the lights.
“CISD has created their own hardship. They’ve known for years this would be a contentious issue,” said neighbor and lights opponent Sean Roberts, adding that the district has promised in the past not to install lights on the fields.
No one on either side has been able to produce evidence of such an agreement.
Carroll athletes and their parents, several of whom introduced themselves as residents of “Dragon Nation,” argued that athletes are being forced to leave class to make 4 p.m. games required by the lack of lights; umpires are hard to get at the hour; and that it is dangerous to drive the athletes to play night games at Bob Jones Park.
“A vote no tonight is a vote against the very core against our community, CISD, but more importantly, it is a vote against our kids,” said parent Jamie Wimberly.
The council adjourned into executive session to ask the city attorney questions after midnight before returning to unanimously grant the variance the school district requested for the lights.
“I hope, regardless of the decision and the vote, this community pulls together going forward,” Mayor John Terrell said before the council voted.