Fri12192014

News

MVHS neighbors protest night-game proposal


Photo By: ellie van houtte/ town crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

The Mountain View High School Cheer Team pumps up the crowd at the high school’s Homecoming game, held at Foothill College. Students and the school’s Athletic Boosters hope to host a night football game Oct. 26, requiring installation of temporary lights.

The outcome of Mountain View High School’s request to host its first night football game was scheduled Monday evening – after the Town Crier’s press deadline – but if neighbors attending last week’s community meeting get their way, it won’t happen.

Approximately 30 neighborhood residents at the Oct. 3 meeting opposed allowing the school to install temporary lights to play its 7 p.m. Oct. 26 game against Homestead High School.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees was slated to vote on the school’s request at Monday’s board meeting.

The Mountain View High Athletic Boosters and representatives from the school’s Associated Student Body organized last week’s community meeting, mediated by a representative from Project Sentinel. The Boosters shared their proposed plan and listened to neighbors’ concerns about increased traffic, noise and other disturbances.

Boosters representative J.J. Kapp explained that there would be 720 parking spaces available – no access to Bruckner Circle and Blue Lake Square, which would be blocked off – and the gate at the rear entrance of the school would be closed. The Boosters initially intended to hire two Mountain View Police officers – increasing that to four by meeting’s end – and enlist 40 volunteers to assist with traffic control.

Some residents living near the school, which borders Los Altos, questioned the plan and weren’t convinced that this would be a one-time event.

“I don’t look at this as just one event,” said Diana Marr, who lives at the corner of Oak and Truman avenues. “A lot of these streets don’t have lights at all. Adding big lights will add light pollution.”

In the Boosters’ presentation, Kapp said the lights would be out by 10 p.m., with two warnings in the half-hour prior to shutting them off. He said the game is expected to conclude at approximately 9 p.m. and it would take roughly 30 more minutes to clear fans from the stands.

Booster and ASB volunteers said they would clean up the field and surrounding neighborhoods of any trash following the game.

Kapp added that the night game would not cost the school any money. Baskin-Robbins on El Camino Real at Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View will finance the lights, according to Kapp, and the Boosters will pay for the four police officers.

Residents on the Los Altos side of the school were concerned that the Mountain View officers would have no jurisdiction in their neighborhood.

Booster representatives explained that events at the school are under the jurisdiction of the Mountain View Police Department and its officers would communicate with Los Altos Police as needed.

Several neighbors said they already deal with high school events six days a week, and savor the quiet at night.

But Alex Hare, ASB rally commissioner, said, “The night atmosphere builds excitement. The game will be looked forward to. We can create a safe place for students on a Friday night and provide a break from the stress.”

Dean Trammell, ASB athletics commissioner, agreed.

“I believe that the opportunity to have a Mountain View football game on a Friday night will bring the community together and make us stronger,” he said.

Neighbor John Mahlmeister told the students at the meeting that he isn’t against increasing student spirit – he just doesn’t believe the plan has been carefully considered.

Mahlmeister added that he would support one night game a year – starting next year – if neighbors are included in the planning process to ensure that their concerns are addressed. He said the students were being “used” in the Boosters’ attempt to get permanent lights.

Mike Johnson of the Mountain View High Boosters focused on this game – not future ones.

“We want the school to have the opportunity to play one night game, the first for Mountain View High School,” he said. “We want the students to have the same experience that nearly all other schools have.”

Two other public schools in Santa Clara County do not have lights for football games, including Los Altos High. The county has 36 public high schools with football programs.

Following the neighbors’ input, the Boosters revised plans for the game, such as extending restrictions on traffic and parking near the campus.

“We certainly heard the neighbors,” Kapp said. “We are going to do everything possible within reason to accommodate the neighbors’ concerns. They are real concerns. There has never been a night game and it will be different than our normal day games.”

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