Marin Catholic High School has sent the county its revised application for a proposal to install lights on the athletic field.
The county is reviewing the application “for completeness,” said senior planner Jocelyn Drake.
“If we deem the application complete, then it will go into the environmental review process,” Drake said.
Marin Catholic is applying for a county permit to install night lighting on four 80-foot poles on the 10-yard line at each side of the field.
The school initially submitted an application in January. County planners asked the school to resubmit it with information including a scale model site plan, a biological site study and more detailed work on studies involving illumination, acoustics and parking. The school submitted its revised application Aug. 15.
The request for lights is being made not to increase field usage, but to have the flexibility to move back the start times for some practices and games to better accommodate the different teams and sports, proponents said.
“Right now, we have students throughout Marin having to leave class early on game days to complete their games before sundown,” said Marin Catholic President Tim Navone. “With these lights, we can keep kids in school on those days and even help a few more working parents make it in time to watch their kids’ game.”
Navone said the lights also will provide “much-needed practice space during the fall and winter months.”
Whether it’s soccer, baseball, lacrosse, basketball or any of a number of sports, there is a big demand for youth athletic facilities in Marin, and the supply doesn’t meet the demand. Over the years, various projects that would help ease the problem have been met with opposition from neighbors.
In Novato, neighbors are opposing a proposal to install night lights on one of San Marin High School’s athletic fields.
Neighbors of Marin Catholic have said they fear that the plan to illuminate Friday night football, soccer and lacrosse games and evening practices would disrupt the community with evening light, noise and traffic.
“Noise and traffic are what I’ve been hearing the most comments about,” Drake said.
“The main opposition is the noise that would arise from those nighttime games,” said Jim McClellan, a Greenbrae resident and member of Preserve Ross Valley, a neighborhood organization opposed to the lights.
McClellan said, “Noise generated on the field is easy to hear on the Greenbrae hillside. You can hear voices on the field, the whistles of coaches and the crack of the baseball bats.
“I should hasten to say that these sounds have been audible to all of us who have lived there for years during the daytime,” McClellan said. “It’s part of the neighborhood and all of us have accepted it. The issue is those sounds will be audible into the evening hours, as late as 10 p.m. That is what we object to.”
Mike Bentivoglio, a member of Marin Catholic’s board of regents, said, “In response to community concerns about noise during evening hours, all of the games and practices will be over at 9 p.m. except for four or five regular season football games plus any playoff games.”
As part of its application, the high school hired two consultants to analyze the sound impacts of shifting the football games from Saturday afternoon to Friday evening and to assess the sound levels with respect to the California Environmental Quality Act guidelines and the county plan.
One of the consultants, Barry Grzebik, managing director of Grzebik Design Group, adjusted the public address system on the athletic field lower than its original setting, and concluded after testing the new level that “on average the sound system will be 1.4 dBA lower for the evening games due to the lower volume setting,” the application said.
A-weighted decibels, abbreviated dBA, measure the relative loudness of sounds as perceived by human ears.
Regarding traffic concerns, the school has held Friday night basketball games for years, and “the school has not received any complaints concerning increased traffic nor neighborhood parking issues,” according to Bentivoglio.
Omni-Means Ltd. did a traffic study for the school, basing its evaluations on the stadium’s capacity of 1,604 people. The study found that nearby intersections “will continue to operate at acceptable conditions with no change in (level of service) with the added game trips.”
The study recommended that “the small number of outbound trips before the game be re-routed to … other driveways,” to avoid congestion.
“The Omni study showed that the delay along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard for the two or three large extended football games would be nine seconds,” Bentivoglio said.
“Also, by shifting some of the practices into the early evening, we are reducing traffic during the peak commute period, which is 4 to 6 p.m.,” Bentivoglio said. “While there is an impact on Friday evening, there would be an elimination of traffic on Saturday afternoons from football games.”
Proponents say lights will increase field use by only 2.5 percent.
“Nearly everyone agrees that creating more recreational opportunities for our kids and families is a positive thing,” said Ross Guehring, a member of the board of regents. “That’s what this proposal is all about — providing student athletes with adequate field space and bringing people together for a small number of Friday evening games.”