Bowing to neighbors, Annie Wright gives up on lighting soccer field

The legal battle to light a soccer field at a historic private school in Tacoma’s Stadium District appears to be at an end.

The head of schools for Annie Wright, Christian Sullivan, said last week that the school had withdrawn a land use petition it filed in Pierce County Superior Court, and would move forward with the rest of its planned improvements, including laying synthetic turf on the field.

“I think that everybody was ready to move on,” Sullivan said. “We need this field for our students.”

The city denied Annie Wright’s request in September to put up the 50-foot athletic lights, about a year after the plan was announced. The school appealed the decision.

So did the North End Neighborhood Association, for different reasons. Neighbors of the school took issue with the city’s approval to expand the field.

A News Tribune call to the association’s attorney wasn’t returned last week.

The city hearing examiner charged with reviewing those appeals denied them last month, upholding the earlier decision that hadn’t entirely pleased either side.

Then last week the school took the issue to Pierce County Superior Court, filing a land use petition. But days later, the school withdrew it.

Which means it will break ground soon on the rest of the field project, which includes the synthetic turf and an auxiliary gym.

Work should start in July, Sullivan said, and he thinks students will be able to play on the field as soon as October.

The school is co-ed from preschool through eighth grade, and also has a girls-only high school.

“It’s not ideal,” Sullivan said about the lighting decision. “We won’t be able to have the usage that we would have liked, but we’ll make it work.”

The turf will make a big difference in terms of how often students can play on the field, he said. Rainy months left the grass field waterlogged at times.

“We’ll move on, and play the games as we can,” he said.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell