Proposal for permanent lighting at Ralston Valley football field riles neighbors

Opponents cite quality of life concerns

ARVADA, Colo. - A proposal to install permanent lighting at Ralston Valley High School’s football field is angering some neighbors who live near the Arvada school.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” said Barry Wolf. “We have a great view of the countryside and the lights are going to ruin it.”

Wolf’s wife, Kathy, told 7NEWS that permanent lighting will lead to heavier use of the field, more traffic in the neighborhood and more noise.

The Wolf’s neighbor, Larry Jurgens, has lived on West 82nd Avenue for 39 years.

“I went to every one of the meetings they had when they were proposing this school,” Jurgens said. “They made a number of promises… one of them was there would never be lights.”

Proponents see the lights in another light.

"I don't know what the neighbors were promised," said J.R. Heffley. “All I know is that the school was built and there are kids here."

He said some of the kids are his.

Heffley, a general contractor, is coordinating the effort to install the lights.

“We’ve got football players occasionally making it to the playoffs that could use the field from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” he said. “With Daylight Savings Time, it gets dark around 4.”

Heffley, who is also a coach, said he wants to help football players, lacrosse players and band members get better.

“I just saw a whole big chunk of grass that was going unused,” he said.

 

Opponents say the push for permanent lighting is being led by wealthy parents.

“Once their kids are out of school, we’ll be stuck with the consequences,” Wolf said.

Heffley said supporters want to work things out with the homeowners, but some of the homeowners don't believe the process has been fair.

“We were given notice in February that they were planning to do this, when all along they had been planning it for ten years,” said Robert Thomas.

Thomas added that some opponents were invited to take part in a task force looking at the issue, "but there was only one meeting."

Heffley said he's hopeful that both sides can reach agreement.

When asked about the lights, the Jeffco School District released the following statement:

The community initiated the proposal to pay for and put lights on the Ralston Valley High School practice field. Jeffco Public Schools recognizes and respects that there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue.  That’s why the district formed a task force made up of residents who represent both pro and con arguments regarding the lights.  The work of the task force will now be turned over a sub-committee of the district’s Capital Asset Advisory Committee for its recommendation.  The sub-committee will consider input provided by those who support and those who oppose the lights. The district will make a decision based on what’s best for the needs of the neighborhoods and the needs of our students.

No word on when a decision will be made.

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