COMMENT TIME: Madison Middle School athletic-field project

(WSB photo, last December – Madison field seen thrugh south-side fence)

Last December, we reported on the levy-funded plan for upgrading the Madison Middle School athletic field with artificial turf and lighting. A comment period related to the project has just opened; nearby residents were sent a notice (thanks for the tips on this), which is replicated on the Seattle Public Schools website:

Draft SEPA Checklist for the Madison Middle School Athletic Field Lighting Project
Public Comment Period: May 11-June 10, 2020

Seattle Public Schools has prepared a draft checklist in compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) regulations for the Madison Middle School Athletic Field Lighting Project. This document provides a site-specific environmental review of the project. The district seeks written comments on the draft SEPA checklist.

The “checklist” – a 113-page document – is here.. It includes project information, dated last month, including that the work is expected to be done this summer, lasting one to two months. (It also notes that an unrelated project is in the planning stage for Madison, a two-story, eight-classroom addition.) Here’s the key summary it contains:

SPS proposes to light the athletic field at Madison Middle School to allow for both SPS use and community use. The athletic field at Madison Middle School accommodates soccer and football activities, with a surrounding track. Light fixtures would be installed on six galvanized steel poles around the perimeter of the field. The poles would be 70 feet tall.

SPS and Parks propose to schedule events at the lighted field from dusk until 10 p.m. The proposal would not change the school enrollment or any other facilities on the site, but would allow increased use of the athletic fields for scholastic and non-scholastic recreational activities schedules to end by 9:45 p.m., with lights automatically turned off at 10:00 p.m.

Later in the document, this is noted: “No public address system would be used at the athletic fields, and SPS will prohibit the use of portable speakers on the athletic fields.” The document also includes detailed analysis of factors from traffic to noise to soil, and graphics/maps. If you’re interested in commenting, here’s how:


Fred Podesta, Chief Operations Officer
Seattle Public Schools
PO Box 34165, MS 22-183
Seattle, WA 98124

Again, the deadline is June 10th. SEPA, by the way, is the State Environmental Policy Act, explained here.

19 Replies to "COMMENT TIME: Madison Middle School athletic-field project"

  • zephyr May 16, 2020 (12:43 pm)

    Sounds terrific for the athletes, but sad for the neighbors with the loss of the night sky. 

  • bajawh May 16, 2020 (1:03 pm)

    I’ve coached the boy’s soccer teams the last three years at Madison. The conversion to synthetic turf will be a hugely appreciated upgrade for the school and community. My comment concerns the proposed use of football field markings, as seen on page 45 of the checklist. Football is not a middle school sport in the district, its participation is on a steep decline, an existing marked field with lights is already available a few blocks away at Hiawatha, recently turfed middle school fields (e.g. Robert Eagle Staff) do not have football markings, and the markings will not serve ultimate, lacrosse, and adult and youth soccer, the explicitly stated target groups in the checklist.The markings at Walt Hundley field are a better example of how to satisfy anticipated demand. Hundley serves lacrosse, ultimate, and all soccer configurations, notably the 6v6 and 9v9 games which are in the biggest demand and shortest supply. If there is a strong and consistent demand for youth football practice and game space, then they deserve the field time and the markings. If not, it’s a waste of resources and an inefficient use of coveted space.

    • Frog May 16, 2020 (3:15 pm)

      Hundley apparently had football markings at some time in the past, since the hash marks are still visible.  Football must have been removed at some point.

    • Conjunction Junction May 16, 2020 (4:03 pm)

      That’s a great observation, thank you.  As a proponent and mom to an Ultimate/Lacrosse player, you are absolutely correct and I support your comment.This will be a huge asset to all the student athletes in WS, and we thank the neighbors for their understanding.  I hope that the evening use and popularity will also discourage those that use the field inappropriately.

    • Travis May 16, 2020 (4:19 pm)

      Agreed.  It should be marked for soccer similar to Walt Hundley.  

      • WSB May 16, 2020 (4:20 pm)

        The “checklist” document’s graphics include one showing field markings.

  • alien May 16, 2020 (2:17 pm)

    Replacing real grass with plastic grass is an upgrade? Should be the other way around, same with the lighting, strange world.

  • Jennie May 16, 2020 (3:35 pm)

    Just thinking of how much it is used as a community sledding hill in the winter and hope that those slopes will still be there :)

  • JRob May 16, 2020 (4:12 pm)

    This will be. A great benefit in many ways. I hope SPS does the lighting right; modern field lighting doesn’t have to blast the neighbors. Perhaps, rather than ringing the field, the main lights stand on the W side, shining towards the school (SWAC has a similar “away from the residences” set-up). One last note; the higher the poles, the better. Sounds counter-intuitive for being less obtrusive, but we want lights shining down, not sideways….

  • TM7302 May 16, 2020 (7:37 pm)

    Why does a middle school (grades 6-8) need an athletic field with lights?

  • Don Brubeck May 16, 2020 (8:50 pm)

    Because it gets dark at 4 pm in winter, and kids have limited places for sports practice outdoors in West Seattle.  I do hope the project will fix the deteriorated concrete retaining wall on the west side of the field, and will not wreck the geothermal well field that is under the existing field.

  • Jeff B. May 17, 2020 (7:37 am)

    I used to live 2 blocks from the Rainier Ball fields and ever single night the lights would come on and stay on all night regardless if anyone was playing or not.  Huge amount of light pollution which really detracted from the neighborhood. We finally moved to West Seattle. 

  • Nw mama May 17, 2020 (9:18 am)

    I just got a bounce back from that email with this message: “ Thank you for contacting There are no projects or programs open for comment at this time. ”🤦🏼‍♀️

    • WSB May 17, 2020 (11:06 am)

      Well, it means your comment went somewhere, at least, but unfortunate auto-response. Thanks for mentioning that, I’ll flag the district tomorrow.

  • KJH May 19, 2020 (12:34 am)

    This is super exciting news for the kids and the community!! No more trying to play sports on a field of potholes and sliding in mud. I hope the lights don’t disrupt the neighbors. Currently the field is still being used as a dog park and a sledding locale, so it will be interesting to see how that works.

  • Nick May 19, 2020 (12:35 am)

    Never understood why West Seattle HS doesn’t utilize  this field for home football games instead of traveling to Chief Sealth to play their “home” games.

    • J2012 May 22, 2020 (9:48 pm)

      West Seattle HS should go back to playing at West Seattle Stadium. Public schools should get priority through the School/parks agreement. 

  • Noah Tannen May 28, 2020 (2:53 pm)

    Love adding a turf field with lights – how about some lines for Ultimate? Seattle has a huge Ultimate community and is known worldwide for producing some of the best players and teams.

  • Grayson May 30, 2020 (12:21 am)

    Yup, lines for Ultimate would be great.

Sorry, comment time is over.