Almanac

Viewpoint - October 20, 2010

Letter: M-A lights: Was lawsuit necessary?

I hate to resort to name-calling, but I am so disgusted with the lack of civility and judgment on display by the "Protectors of Atherton's Residential Character" that I find it hard to restrain myself.

For the uninitiated, Menlo-Atherton High School would like to install lights on its football field to enable student athletes to practice longer and to hold nighttime sporting events.

A group of apparently timid Atherton residents, acting under their anonymous superhero name of "Protectors of Atherton," has successfully sued to stop the turning on of the lights for essentially the entire football season at a minimum. Score that handful of cranky neighbors 1 — hundreds of community families 0.

Thereby they provide a modern civics lesson to our high school students, that if you are the squeaky wheel, particularly a well-funded squeaky wheel, you can bring in a San Francisco law firm to shut things down on technical grounds.

Forget the fact that the Protectors of Atherton elected to move next to a school (at least in the case of the only resident with enough guts to put her name on the lawsuit). Sometimes being part of a community requires that you hear the cheers and maybe even see the residual light from an event at a school that you chose as your neighbor. Events at schools create community and bonding experiences for our kids and families.

I think the situation could have been addressed in a more productive manner than a lawsuit on one side or the exercise of eminent domain on the other.

Jay Hansen, parent of M-A student in the dark and happy neighbor of Hillview Middle School

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