I’ve followed with interest the continuing saga of Dreher High School’s attempt to build some additional sports facilities on its campus, and for the life of me, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. After all, we’re only talking about a practice field and a few tennis courts, and it seems Richland School District One has bent over backwards to pacify the “mostly affluent” neighbors who are adamantly opposed to the project.
The practice field will have no lights, pubic-address system or scoreboard, although the tennis courts will have lights. And yet Dreher neighbors fear their “quality of life” will be threatened by after-school soccer practices and the plop, plop, plop of tennis balls. It all sounds fairly benign to me, but then you see, I live in Rosewood, a block from Memorial Stadium, where for decades folks have learned to live with substantial traffic and noise associated with the stadium and ball fields on S. Holly Street.
It hasn’t been easy. Additional facilities that accommodate more frequent events have made life around the stadium more stressful. Having a marching band bang away outside your living room window for four straight hours one night a week is one thing, but when it starts happening two or three nights a week, well, that’s tough. Add soccer season and the loud music pounding from the PA before games, and you get the picture.
Then there’s the traffic that flows into our neighborhood on game days, making evening commutes treacherous for Rosewood residents. A traffic study was conducted in 2003 when District One last renovated the stadium, and it concluded that there would be “considerable congestion at several intersections before major events.” Nothing was done to address that concern 15 years ago, and now a multi-million-dollar renovation of Memorial Stadium is underway that promises more traffic. To top it off, the stadium plans call for a new high-tech sound system that’s capable of blowing the roofs off houses all the way to Rosewood Drive.
Look, we get it. Dreher is an in-town school and deserves to have athletic facilities in reasonable proximity to its campus. And to be fair, the Rosewood neighborhood enjoys the excitement of next-door sporting events most of the time.
But District One must show respect for the neighborhoods, and realize that its actions have consequences for residents on nearby streets. They seem to have done that in regards to adjusting the on-campus project to lessen community impact there. We hope they will show the same consideration for Rosewood. No mediators needed, just do the right thing.
President, Rosewood Community Council