University Park Keeps Working On Ordinance For New Lights

The University Park City Council didn’t have a document ready to sign regarding lights for Highland Park High School’s tennis courts and softball field last week, but they did go through neighbors’ and the school’s requests to help finalize one.

Noise and renting procedures were the biggest chunks to work out as the council went over an ordinance draft on Oct. 1. When the public hearing was closed on Sept. 17, representatives from the school district promised to collect noise level data so they could provide the council with exact decibel caps.

Though the data was not collected during a game, HPISD’s Jerry Sutterfield took the team’s game-day CD and played it for measure.

“I played ZZ Top — played the same song over and over — because it seemed to be the loudest selection on there,” Sutterfield said.

Music is played between innings. The sample read 78.2 decibels in the stands, and roughly 51 decibels across the street, so the ordinance draft calls for a cap of 60 decibels at the property line. But even with data, neighbors weren’t happy.

“I wouldn’t want my grandkids at 9 o’clock at night hearing that, or even to hear, over a loud speaker, ‘Suzy Jones takes the mound for the Lady Scots’ in her bedroom,” said Morton Newman, a University Park resident who owns property across the street from the field.

Of course, noise is just part of the problem. Regulations on how the facilities, and therefore lights, would be used for non-UIL play is a big issue, as well.

Sutterfield said coaches would have to provide rosters with residence information in order to rent the field. He pointed out that most of the teams will be younger Park Cities YMCA teams, anyway. However, they’ll host teams from other cities.

“Your facility is not open like a park of University Park,” Mayor Dick Davis said. “No one can use it without authority or appropriate documentation.”

Sutterfield said a school employee would be responsible for opening, checking, and closing the field when outside users are renting, so the field would not be left with outside users unattended.

“Some of you are going to be unhappy with aspects of this, one way or the other,” Davis said.

As discussed at prior meetings, the cutoff time for lights will be 9 p.m., with no innings starting after 9 for non-UIL games. No use of lights or music will be allowed on Sundays.

Davis again asked members of the community to submit any comments through email, as the public hearing remains closed.

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