McFee residents sound off about ‘bleeding’ lights

With residents’ sounding off about ill effects, McFee Park’s lights on its tennis/pickleball/basketball courts will continue to go off at its regular time unless there are reservations.

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, at its Thursday, May 25, meeting, voted against a request to leave on lights from sunset to 9:45 p.m. with or without reservations after hearing from nearby residents opposing the request.

“My lot lies directly behind the pickleball court. Those lights, when they’re on at night, (in) my second story, those lights bleed into my house,” neighboring resident David Zena said.

“They light the backyard,” he added. “It’s one thing to have people utilize that court — that’s fine. I’m not against fun .... but to have those lights on is a tremendous waste of money when no one’s there.

“... They are intrusive. It’s light pollution. It affects our quality of living. I don’t think it’s fair to us ... .”

Reminding the Board of its new “vision,” Marc Patti, who represented his McFee area homeowners’ association, said extending the use of lights “goes against that vision.

“When the lights are on and nobody’s there, you’re not getting any quality of life improvement by anybody playing, but you’re definitely hurting the quality of life of people who have to watch those lights,” he said.

Alderman Drew Burnette said the lights only would stay on in the summer, not other times of the year.

However, while Burnette empathizes with the neighbors, he said people are not making reservations to use the courts, but “there are tons of people using it when the lights are out, so it is a drop-in area.

“... This (lighting change) helps the usage during the high-traffic months of summer,” he added.

“The stories I’ve heard from neighbors are disturbing to me,” Alderman Scott Meyer said.

“I don’t like the light pole height. I wish they could be redone,” he added. “I can’t support this and I won’t support this because I wouldn’t want it for myself,” he added.

“I don’t think the lights should be there in the first place,” Alderman David White said. “They were not in accordance with code when they were put up. They were too tall. I thought they should come down and be lowered.”

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin said she also is against extending the time to leave on lights.

Park manager Lauren Cox said all other lights are on only with reservations with no issues. She also said there has been no pushback from residents having to rent the courts to get the lights.

"The park has four lighted tennis courts, which can be converted into eight pickleball courts and one full-size basketball court,” she said, adding the Parks & Athletics Council voted unanimously to recommend extending the lighting to 9:45 p.m. nightly.

“This modification is to allow the community access to the courts in the evenings without reservations,” Cox said. “This will also create a well-lit space in the evenings to discourage vandalism in the park.

“Evening tennis and pickleball court paid rentals will continue to be available so that the community can reserve a court for play,” she said. “Courts are available for drop-in use at no charge if there is not a reservation.”

Currently, Cox said lights are only available by reservation with the last reservation time 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. with a 15-minute grace period.

On another park-related action, the Board voted unanimously to award a contract to American Sports Fields for $40,500 to remove an infield soil mix from the west diamond baseball field in Mayor Bob Leonard Park. Park manager Lauren Cox said hazardous debris was discovered in the current infield soil mixture of the west baseball field.

“The debris is a risk to our park users and will require staff to remove and replace 4 inches of infield soil, which his approximately 420 tons of material,” she said.