City: Notre Dame Prep stadium lights close to conformance

A view of Bemis Field at Notre Dame Preparatory in north Scottsdale during a night game in the fall of 2016. (Submitted photo)

After months of uncertainty and work, there might finally be a light at the end of the tunnel coming into view for both Notre Dame Preparatory and neighbors alike regarding the lights at Scot Bemis Field.

Scottsdale senior planner Jesus Murillo was at the stadium testing the brightness of the lights, which the city shut down on Oct. 28 after determining they were not in conformance with city standards.

Several nearby residents complained of the brightness the of stadium lights, which prompted the city to shut down the usage of the lights until Notre Dame changed to a city-approved system.

With a new system in place and a new light meter for the city, Mr. Murillo performed two tests during a lacrosse game at the field Thursday, March 30 and a third test occurred Wednesday, April 5.

Based on the results of the test, Mr. Murillo said the field’s lights are almost in conformance. This result brings a lot of optimism to Notre Dame Prep and principal Jerry Zander after months of work.

“We are very excited with the way the lights look and are hopeful that our young women and men will soon be able to use the field at night,” Mr. Zander said in an April 6 written response to e-mailed questions.

“We are grateful to our NDP community for their patience and support during this time, the neighborhood for working with us so that we can provide a venue for our kids and support this wonderful neighborhood, and the city of Scottsdale for all of their hard work through the process.”

Recent tests

On Wednesday, April 5, Mr. Murillo tested the light levels at a 100-foot perimeter of the stadium.

While he has not yet informed the community of the numbers of that test, he did say in a Thursday, April 6 statement the light levels were lower than previously approved levels.

A week earlier, Mr. Murillo tested the light trespass along the bordering communities to the field. This included communities across from the field at Bell Road and 98th Street.

He found the foot-candle measurement for 95 percent of the border was below the approved amount.

The areas greater than the approved foot-candles limit was directly under street and signal lights close to the intersection of Bell Road and 98th Street, according to Mr. Murillo’s report.

“This was the most difficult of all the areas to confirm the light source was truly being affected by the stadium lights,” he said in an email to nearby residents and media members.

Mr. Murillo also conducted a test of light levels on the field and found measurements both increased and decreased from previously approved foot-candle measurements.

The lowest approved foot-candle measurement on the field did increase, but the highest approved foot-candle measurement dropped eight foot-candle lengths.

Despite the discrepancies, Mr. Murillo said in the group email, overall, the field met approved foot-candles.

“The end goal of these numbers is to make sure that the field is lit to the safety requirements, the field is safe for the students to play and that the light trespass does not violate the approved amount,” Mr. Murrillo said.

The next steps for the school is to make some tweaks. Then, the school will submit all the materials to memorialize the final design and the new lighting levels for final approval from the city, Mr. Murillo said.

“Ultimately, the situation is in its final stages of conformance; a resolution for we have all been waiting,” he said.

Scot Bemis Field at Notre Dame Preparatory. (file photo)

Replacing the lights

After the city halted usage Notre Dame Prep got to work trying to find a solution for the nonconformance.

Mr. Murillo said in a March 10 email to nearby residents he was in contact with the school in early November but it could not provide a concrete timeline on when it could get the lights into conformance and it would have a better idea in February.

From November 2016 to January 2017, Mr. Zander said the school attempted to readjust the previous light system to bring it into conformance.

“As time started to pass, we were not able to improve the old lights to what we needed and it became clear that we would have to replace the lights,” Mr. Zander said in an April 6 emailed response.

Mr. Zander said the decision to replace the lights took place early January.

In mid-February, Mr. Murillo said he called the school again, this time to the school’s architect but still did not receive a timeline while the architect assured Mr. Murillo the school was working toward a solution.

Mr. Murillo received a call in early March from the school informing him new lights had been installed and were ready for testing.

“At this time I had not been made aware by their team that any lights had been removed or replaced, except from emails sent by your community,” Mr. Murillo said in an email to nearby residents.

Mr. Zander did not respond to a question regarding communication between the city and school.

Mr. Murillo said while the school may not have communicated in the time frame city staff would have wanted, the city and the school were in constant communication.

“At this stage, staff is looking to underline that the situation is very close to being resolved,” he said in an April 6 statement. “The resolution would not have happened as it did if it were not for the diligence and patience of the residents and the further cooperation of the school.”


News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at or at 623-445-2738

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