Mpls. neighbors vent concerns about Washburn field use

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2013 - 8:34 PM

Revised plans for a new scoreboard meet with less resistance, but frustration over other issues continues.

Washburn High School’s Sept. 13 homecoming could pass before the installation of a scoreboard that triggered the departure of both the principal and the athletic director. That would make the second straight homecoming without a permanent scoreboard since the school got a new artificial athletic field last year.

Minneapolis school district officials met this week with about 20 school neighbors to preview the board’s design and placement. Although some neighbors seemed happy that the scoreboard will be about 10 feet shorter than the $140,000 version proposed last year, the meeting made clear there are larger issues to resolve.

Neighbors focused on the noise and lights that spill over from an increasing number of events held on the field.

“I hear every referee, every whistle, every sound,” said Washburn alum David Hilden. “Our house glows in the dark, and it’s a block away.”

The scoreboard issue blew up last August. The old scoreboard in the north end zone was pulled out to install the turf. The new scoreboard was too big for that space, so the replacement was to go outside the north stadium fence, standing 37.5 feet tall.

Angered that two trees planted to screen neighbors from the lights were cut down for the scoreboard’s support columns, neighbors complained to the city, which said the scoreboard didn’t have the necessary approvals.

Students protested reports that Athletic Director Dan Pratt was in danger of losing his post over the misstep. The protests led to the reassignment of Principal Carole Markham-Cousins. Pratt was reassigned, then quit for a job with Rockford schools.

Besides standing shorter on the opposite end of the field, the new scoreboard will lack some of the ad and sponsor features of the original proposal, according to the district.

Markus Lynn-Klimenko, another neighbor, said the new scoreboard was a far better design, but the neighborhood concerns need to be addressed. “We are good neighbors and we’d like to have the school board treat us as good neighbors,” he said.

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