Concerns light up over Patrick Henry High School stadium lighting

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The Roanoke City School Board is pushing to use stadium lights at Patrick Henry High School athletic complex for more games and practices. The board plans to ask the city's board of zoning appeals to drop the lighting restrictions Wednesday.

The Merrill Gainer Field at Patrick Henry High School has been home to the Patriots for nearly a decade. The first game was held in 2007.

Neighbors who live near the stadium told us the athletic complex is a good connection to the surrounding community.

"I kind of like watching the game from my deck out backs and I enjoy that," said David Eckman.

Eckman, who's lived along Blenheim Road since 1962, said he enjoys the sounds and sights of the Friday night games. But, some said the noise is louder in different parts of the neighborhood than others.

"You can hear it echo here and with the band playing across on Grandin, you can hear the band playing," said Debra Marshall, who lives near the stadium.

And the complaints increase when there are more games in the evening, meaning more lights.

Now, the Roanoke School Board is looking to turn the stadium lights on more often for games and practices. On Wednesday, the Roanoke City Council will hold a public hearing on the Patrick Henry Stadium lights whether to remove the current restrictions.

Some neighbors we spoke to didn't want to talk on camera; they don't want to see the change take place because they say the stadium lighting goes directly into their homes. However, others welcome more activity on the field.

"It's there so, they should use it as much as possible," said Eckamn. "Tax money went into the building, why should it be exclusionary?"

"I just think that you should really support Patrick Henry because it's been here a long time and the kids that go there really want to learn," said Marshall.

We're told the last time the lighting regulations were revised was when school got out an hour earlier, which was nearly a decade ago.

A representative of the school board said if a special exemption is granted at the zoning appeals hearing, the change could take place this year.

A Statement from Justin McLeod, Roanoke Public Schools Community Relations Coordinator:

"The community paid for the Patrick Henry Stadium, and we feel the community should be able to use it.  In fact, we get numerous requests from rec clubs and other organizations asking to use the stadium.  During the last few months, representatives from Roanoke City Public Schools have met with some of the neighbors to share our plans and hear their concerns.  The school system is committed to being good neighbors and will continue to address any issues."