Half a decade after celebrating its inaugural season, Windermere High School leaders will ditch their football stadium for a field within walking distance of the classroom buildings.
Orange County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the district to move the field, which is currently located in a park a mile south of the school.
The existing field was a compromise between the district, which was desperate for a relief school in a fast-growing area of the county, and neighbors worried about noise, light and traffic.
However, administrators discovered the satellite location was a safety nightmare, with nowhere to hide during an emergency and no way for an ambulance to access the site quickly.
“I would never be able to safely evacuate the stadium,” Principal Andrew Leftakis said.
District and county leaders worked to gain the community’s support for the transition, and promised to cut off events at the field at 8 p.m. most nights, though Friday night games will be allowed to take place until 11 p.m.
There also won’t be any events before 8 a.m. on weekends, and the PA system’s volume will be capped at all times. New lights will also be installed to nearly eliminate glare.
“Once we have the density, we’ve moved the families in, we have to have the schools, and if we have the schools, we have to have the things that come with the schools,” Commissioner Nicole Wilson said.
A few neighbors still opposed the project, citing noise and other quality-of-life concerns. However, commissioners signaled they believed the district had done everything it could.