A generally civil but oftentimes emotional, overflow crowd gathered on June 20 at the Henly Volunteer Fire Department for a Town Hall Meeting to discuss outdoor lighting and other issues at the newly-constructed Field of Dreams baseball park. Hosted by Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant, the meeting saw citizen after citizen rise to complain about the intrusive playing field and parking lot lighting at the nine field baseball complex located just south of Henly. Other complaints included physical trespass, traffic, and sanitary issues, though the main focus of the crowd was the outdoor lighting.
One resident described the lighting as similar to an alien space ship having set down in the formerly dark, pastoral field with all lights ablaze. Another described it as having 50 sets of automobile headlights aimed directly at his house at night. One area Bed and Breakfast owner stated that clients are canceling their reservations because they have heard that the night sky south of Henly is no longer dark and one can no longer see the stars. Another lamented the loss of property value, as her home no longer feels like it is “in the country.”
One Blanco County resident stated that the fields’ lights, mounted on tall poles as they are, are clearly visible from her ranch and have robbed her of the former pristine night sky that had attracted her to the location in the first place. Acknowledging that the lights are in Hayes County, she stated with evident frustration that “The light does not stop at the county line.”
Dripping Springs resident and outdoor lighting expert, Cindy Luongo Cassidy, spoke for the Hill Country Alliance in condemning the poor lighting design and the consequent light pollution and light trespass issues it has caused. She stated that solutions are readily available if the owners choose to make the investment.
Several individuals spoke up in favor of the ball park stating that young players on area “select” teams need a place to play. Several attendees countered that no one is against baseball per se, but rather they object to the intrusive nature of the Field of Dreams facility and the disruption of rural life it has caused.
Three of the ball park’s investors attended the meeting and heard the litany of complaints. They acknowledged that the park was a “for profit” operation but stated that the investors were determined to work with the community to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. Many in the audience appeared skeptical and several spoke of litigation.