HOUSTON -- Neighbors in the Contemporary Plaza community near Reliant Park say a newly built sports field has stripped the privacy and peace away from their homes.
Homeowners living on Marlink Lane claim they had no idea the field was being built on a vacant lot until construction began over the summer.
The field belongs to Emery/Weiner School, which serves grade six through 12.
The private school began using the field for football and soccer a couple of weeks ago. Neighbors living less than 20 feet away from the field say they have already had enough.
“You don’t want to play football every Saturday night. It’s fun to go to football games, but you don’t want to be at one when you’re at home,” said neighbor Melissa Palmer.
Palmer’s bedroom offers a panoramic view of the field. Her home backs up to the sports field, and she says there is no escape from it.
“It’s like torture,” explained Palmer.
Neighbors began taking cell phone videos of the games that sometimes last through 10 p.m. The videos capture bands, music, crowds cheering and a PA system that can be heard clearly inside homes.
“They actually should probably buy our homes out and make these skyboxes, because this is what this is,” said neighbor Deandrea Prince. “They made our homes skyboxes.”
Homeowners say they are also disturbed by the bright field lights that shine in through the windows of their homes.
“It’s like a prison. Suddenly, everything looms up,” said neighbor James Nixon. “It can’t do anything but get worse. It can’t get better.”
Neighbors claim they’ve gotten nowhere after sharing their concerns with the school.
However, Emery/Weiner told KHOU that the school is trying to make it better for neighbors.
Bradley Rauch, president of the Board of Trustees, released a written statement. It said in part:
“The School has developed the field and intends to operate it in accordance with all applicable City ordinances, including those relating to sound and lighting. That said, we are very sensitive to the feelings and perceptions of our neighbors and have already met with them to address these concerns. With respect to sound, although the use of a public address system is very periodic, we have been and will continue to be cognizant of the volume and are in the process of developing guidelines for use in order to mitigate potential disturbance. With respect to the lights, the lighting system that was installed was the most current and cutting edge athletic lighting system available, which focuses the brightest light on only the playing surface. Incidentally, we have already asked our architects to review the focus of the system and suggest possible ways to further reduce any spillover.”
The statement went on to say:
“As the residents will attest, we have been very good neighbors for the past 13 years and our presence has been good for the neighborhood. In fact, what preceded the beautiful new field we bought and constructed was an abandoned, overgrown lot -- an area that local police used to call "Death Valley." Our hope is to continue to bring value to the area and continue to be good neighbors because we're planning to be here for a very, very long time.”