A local baseball field may see brighter days, and nights, after gaining support from the Albemarle County School Board for the installation of lights.
The Northside Cal Ripken League seeks to illuminate the Carson Raymond Baseball Field located between Hollymead Elementary School and Sutherland Middle School to accommodate growth in the number of players and demand for the existing fields.
“This field is a logical choice to light since it has ample parking, bathrooms and concessions that the existing facilities lack,” Alice Riccabona, president of the board of directors of the Northside Cal Ripken League, said at a School Board meeting last week.
The league has experienced significant growth the past few years and lighting will provide extra playtime for practices and games, as well as the option to host tournaments and increase the league’s revenue.
The project — which will come at no cost to the school division — will consist of four, 60-foot-high light poles. The league would be responsible for both maintenance of the lights and the cost of electricity.
The cost estimate is up to $105,000, and the league might approach the county’s Parks and Recreation Department regarding a cost-sharing relationship.
To minimize light pollution, the lights will be fitted with visors to direct the light on the playing field. Any potential spillover will be on the surrounding parking lots.
Additionally, since the majority of players are 12 years of age or under, the lights will usually be cut off no later than 10 p.m.
School Board member Eric Strucko said he supports the project and the idea that other leagues would be able to travel to this area for tournaments.
“I think this will be great for the local economy, hotels and restaurants,” Strucko said.
The project will, however, require a site plan to be approved by Albemarle County because the lights will not meet the full cutoff requirement in the county’s lighting ordinance.
The application process, which is expected to take three months, also will allow time for public comment.
Board member Jason Buyaki thought the lighting was a great idea, but he suggested holding off any endorsement so the public could give the School Board input on the project.
The league said it is planning to host an information session for surrounding neighborhoods once its application is completed.
The league plans to have all necessary approvals, funding and selection of a qualified vendor completed by July and begin installation in August. Actual installation will take less than a month.
Phil Giaramita, spokesman for school division, said that if everything gets approved, this would be the first instance of lighted athletic fields at a county middle or elementary school.
The School Board plans to vote on whether to endorse the project at its work session Jan. 22 to allow time for public comment.
At last week’s meeting, the School Board unanimously elected Ned Gallaway to serve a second term as chairman. Gallaway was first elected as the at-large board member in November 2011.
Board member Kate Acuff, who was elected to the board in November 2013, was chosen as the new vice chairwoman.
Board member Stephen Koleszar was not in attendance.
Superintendent Pam Moran will present her budget to the School Board at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the County Office Building on McIntire Road.