KHS field lighting turns on support

KINGSTON — Lights aren’t taken lightly in Kingston.

The crowd at Kingston Junior High Wednesday night was evidence of this as 60 residents filed in to discuss the possibility of lighting the track and field at the new Kingston High School. The commons were so packed, organizers had to bring out 20 extra chairs prior to the start of the meeting.

Wednesday, all eyes were on North Kitsap School District director of capital programs Robin Shoemaker, who fielded questions on the issue from the audience during the near two-hour meeting.

It all came down to dollars and cents as Shoemaker told the group that permanent lights would cost between $200,000-$225,000. Rental lights would cost anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000 plus approximately $2,500 in monthly rental fees.

While estimates are in, lights at the KHS field are still in the preliminary design stage. Installation of the fixtures — should it eventually come to fruition — would likely happen for the 2008-2009 school year.

“There isn’t a timeline,” Shoemaker said. “If it doesn’t happen this in the summer of 2007, it will probably wouldn’t be installed until the summer of 2008.”

As far as funding is concerned, Kingston Rotary President Paulette DeGard said she hopes the community will rally together to help raise a portion of the funds needed for the lights.

“The rotary will be a community lead to help raise money, but we can’t do it by ourselves,” DeGard said. “We need to work together with as many groups as we can. I strongly believe the community will benefit (from the lights). We need to rally together behind our local school.”

Glenn Gracey, a representative from the North Kitsap Soccer Club, said installing lights at Kingston High School’s field will have a lasting positive effect on the community.

“Athletics is one of the best things we can provide for our kids. It creates leadership,” Gracey said. “During the fall, our practices stop at 4:45 p.m. because it gets dark. If we had lights, kids could be practicing there until 8 p.m.”

Jim Bilbao also from the North Kitsap Soccer Club agreed and added that the fixtures at KHS would help alleviate the wear and tear on natural grass fields throughout the North Kitsap area.

“The intensity of the usage of the fields goes up when darkness starts to go down,” Bilbao said. “Especially during after school hours in the spring and fall. If there were lights (at Kingston) it would take the stress off of the grass fields. The fields are shutdown for 45 percent of the year because of usage.”

Kingston PTA President Ginny Bell said she is a firm believer in expanding athletic opportunities for North Kitsap youth.

Lights would provide more opportunities to Kingston students, she said.

“We look forward to the new Kingston High School buildings and outdoor athletic sports facilities providing a place for the greater Kingston community to gather and celebrate the incredible talent and energy of our teens,” Bell said. “However, without lighting we can expect that Kingston High School sports practices will have to end when it gets dark.”

But not everyone thinks the lights are such a bright idea.

Kingston resident Paul Lundy can see the new high school from his house and doesn’t relish the idea of seeing it into the evening hours.

“I have a great view of the new high school. I know I am in the minority, but I don’t want the lights,” Lundy said. “If you do move forward with this please take us into consideration. We will definitely see the lights. Please do make sure that the lights have good timers so they’re turned off after they’re done being used.”

But electrical designer from DMD & Associates Don McLean tried to alleviate such concerns, explaining the technological advances in athletic field lights.

“Lighting fixture technology has came a long way,” McLean said. “If lights go into people’s backyards or into the sky it’s not efficient. Now the lighting fixtures are higher and aim right down on the field. This along with the turf on the field reduces the impacts of the lights to the surrounding areas.”

In DMD & Associates tentative plan for the KHS field, there would be four lighting poles positioned outside of the track with the two poles on each side of the field parallel to each other. The poles will be 70 feet high. As for Lundy’s concern about lights being left on after sporting events are finished, McLean addressed this issue as well.

“With an automated system that we would propose, you could turn the lights on and off with a cell phone,” McLean said.

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