Thomas Jefferson High School Looking to Upgrade Fields

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RICHMOND – The Thomas Jefferson Vikings are warming up for another football season, but the high school field they play on is a little tired.

“The facility itself overall is definitely dilapidated,” says football coach Chad Hornik. “We have guys falling down all the time dealing with that.”

There's no irrigation system to keep the grass green, it lacks secure fencing. Last year the field was vandalized twice.

And the track cuts right through the middle of the end zone. The coach says it's dangerous.

It's not just the football field. The track is only one fifth of a mile and weeds are fielding the baseball diamond.

The local civic associations are considering upgrades.

There's even funding for a design.

“I think studies prove there is a correlation between increased academics and a good solid athletic program,” says Valerie Thomson, Saurer's Garden Civic Association President.

But a dividing factor for neighbors – lights.

“Some neighbors are concerned if there are lights and a lot night games about traffic, lights and noise,” says Ron Wisniewski.

“The other issue is we never have Friday Night games and everybody knows Friday night lights is  part of football.”

A community meeting to discuss the possible upgrades took place Wednesday night. Lines were
being drawn inside the school's auditorium as residents sounded off on the
issue.

“Everyone
here knew when they moved in that TJ does not play night games,” says resident Larry
Hedgepeth.

David Ballard says the
school, built in depression era Richmond, needs the upgrades, without question.

“I just think it's a
missed opportunity if we don't move on this and try to improve the athletic
facilities at TJ,” he says. “it seems that a large number of people want the
school to remain in that same condition some 83 years later.”

Leaders have addressed
these concerns, but as Hedgepeth sees it, it all comes down to what they do.

As they wrap up discussion
at Thomas Jefferson High, still a lot of concerns weighing on both sides of the
issue. Even community leaders agree they're taking baby steps when it comes to
this project.

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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