Thursday, June 25, 2015
The Lighting of Riverview: The Sun May Rise From Both East and West
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It's going to be the glow that seems to come from infinity. And you'll be able to see it from all over Kingsport.
And for some folks... from their own backyards.
With the opening of the Clay Hill Ballfields at Brickyard Park, folks in nearby Riverview have been adjusting to the sun coming up from the west, instead of the east.
The "sun"... being the new lighting system that illuminates the 4 ballfields should any game on the fields runs after dark.
"They are pretty bright, I'll agree with you," says Kingsport Parks and Recreation manager Kitty Frazier. "The poles are more than 80 to 90 feet tall, and so you will see the lights from above the tree line. They have to be, to shine over the entire field."
"We took great care to aim the bulk of the lights as much as we can, onto the fields of play," she says. "They do have shields on them, and even with that, there will be that visual view from a distance."
"You are going to see them."
We got a first-look at what folks are seeing. On a trip home to Riverview, this reporter arrived at 2 o'clock in the morning, to a glow that could be seen from Wilcox Boulevard out by Meadowview. The glow got more concentrated on the approach to the Wilcox bridges over the river, and then localized to the ballfields. It was then, the assumption was made by this reporter that the city 'must be testing the new ballfield lighting.'
It was a darn good test.
There wasn't a location in the Riverview neighborhood the lights were not seen from. From Dunbar Street.... to Douglass Street.... to Carver Street.... over to Louis Street.... even down to Wheatley Street and MLK Drive. The new ballfield lights provided an eerie midnight glow in Riverview, and a unique match to the constant hum from nearby Eastman.
"If you look at the lighting at J. Fred Johnson Stadium, you can also see those lights from all over Kingsport," Frazier says. "It's the same scenario.. those light poles are tall indeed."
Several Riverview backyards were lit up, especially those along Dunbar Street.
Will the ballfield lighting be a bother? Depends on who you talk to.
"It does light up the neighborhood," says Vicki Smith who lives on Dunbar. "But I think it deters any bad activities from happening. If my backyard is lit up, I'm gonna see anybody back there. I'm pretty sure they don't want to be seen. Any time the ballfield lights are on at night, there's that chance that somebody that's up to no good is gonna get seen."
Another Dunbar Street resident, Ronald Taylor, doesn't share that opinion.
"We are the closest to the low spot where the lights are," he says. "I won't say 'daylight,' but it is pretty bright. We have to close doors and put up shaded draperies to keep the light out. Even my mom at 97 years old with her failing eyesight has noticed it. She looked out the window one night and said 'there's light out there.' Even she could tell there was a difference."
"We're continuing to check for impact," Frazier says. "The lights can still be adjusted, although I don't know how much more. They shouldn't really light up someone's backyard, and that's something that we'll still be looking into. If neighbors have any concerns, all they have to do is let us know."
Frazier says, lighting the fields won't happen every single night, and probably not all night long after games, except to test them.
CLICK THE "PLAY" ARROW BELOW TO SEE A SLIDE SHOW OF "THE LIGHTING OF RIVERVIEW, AND CLICK YOUR AUDIO SPEAKER ON:
But lighting may not be the only concern.
Nobody knows about the noise level from the Clay Hill ballfields. Yet.
"With the sound, especially if the stands are full, there's no way to tell yet what the sound level is going to be," she says. "There's no knowing it will seem noisy with all the activity over there, and how well the sound is going to carry. A baseball field is not like a football field with a band and a lot of cheering. There might be sporadic cheering, a crack of the bat, maybe somebody 'yayying,' but that's about it."
BUT MORE LIGHTING TO COME
You may have noticed huge, long concrete poles on the grounds of the ballfield at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex, on the community center side at MLK Drive.
We've seen those poles before.
"They are the poles that used to be at the Eastman ballfields on Wilcox," says Frazier. "They were taken down because of the new Eastman building that's going up there. They could not go up at Brickyard Park because the new fields have a different kind of surface to light. Those old lights just didn't fit and we thought 'well , since we got 'em and Eastman is willing to donate them, rather than destroy them, we looked around for a nice place to move them to."
The choice was fairly easy. The generations-old field at V.O. Dobbins was Frazier's first choice.
"The wooden poles at the Riverview ballfield are old," she says. "A few years ago, I had someone in the lighting business look at those poles just to check them out. They felt like they were reasonably stabilized... most people don't know just by looking at them that those poles are actually about 10 feet in the ground. What you see above ground, doesn't represent how much is underground. There is a substantial underpinning on all of those poles, but let's face it... they're all unsightly. Again, they're old and they look out of place with all the new homes, the new additions to the community center, and the shelters."
One of them, in particular. It's got a 'mean lean' that rivals the curve in any road.
"As for that one pole," Frazier says, "I can't say that it won't fall one day, but the guys who checked it out felt that even though it was leaning, it was not going to fall over because there is too much stability in the ground. Plus, the pole is pretty solid for a wooden pole. Still though, it doesn't give a good impression with that lean."
"The idea is to replace all those wooden poles with the concrete poles and the higher quality lighting, which would be astheticly more pleasing, along with underground lighting," she says. "Now that the poles are there, that's what we'd like to do."
"It's not a cheap project," she says, "even if you have the equipment on hand. Luckily, we didn't have to move them very far and that's a good thing.. having them already near where they were going to go up, is the way to go. They're concrete, they won't deteriorate in the weather and they're too heavy to move anywhere else, plus the Douglass Ballfield needs them."
"It's a perfect match."
8 poles, made for Eastman Chemical Company
Date of Manufacturer: July 7, 1995
Substance: Concrete over hollow shell
Length of each pole: 69 feet, 6 inches
Length of each pole underground: 10 feet
Weight of each pole: 7,615 pounds
Total weight: 60,920 pounds
LIGHTED DOUGLASS BALLFIELD ON LEFT, LIGHTED CLAY HILL BALLFIELDS ON RIGHT
As for the 'lighting of Riverview,' there may come a nighttime when there could be two activities at Riverview's two ballfields.... one on the Clay Hill ballfields on the west side of the neighborhood and another on the eastside's Douglass Ballfield.
The resulting light would most likely illuminate every yard in the community.
"That's an interesting thought," Frazier mused. "I hadn't thought about that. But for now, let's concentrate on Brickyard Park and aiming the lights so they won't be intrusive to the neighborhood. Then, we'll get the wooden poles replaced with the concrete ones on the Douglass ballfield, and then aim those lights in the same manner. Those are the top priorities right now."
And again, keep in mind, Frazier says. The ballfield lights won't be on all the time.
Frazier took time to marvel at the changes that have transformed Riverview.. changes she feels, are for the best.
"We did so many things to rejuvenate the whole neighborhood," she says, "the housing, the community center renovation, the non-profit tower, the playground, the splash pad... it's as much to do with what changed, as an attitude of pride. Many communities would love to have the changes the city took on, to help people in Riverview know and feel how special and vital their neighborhood is."
"I'd like to think, with all the new lighting, that we 'lit a fire' of pride in the community."