Darien is a fantastic town in which to raise a family. It offers a very high quality public education system, wonderful recreational parks and beaches, and extensive sports programs for children from toddlers to teens. There are a wide variety of sports offered to enthusiastic young athletes throughout the year coached by volunteer moms and dads, school professionals, and other professional sports organizations.
There is, however, one aspect of our town sports programs that lags in comparison to other towns in Fairfield County, that being limited fields on which to play the sports. As a result, the demand for field time for practices and games can require the entire day on the weekends and the entire afternoon into the evening on school days.
If we as a community are committed to supporting our sports programs, such as the Darien Junior Football League, we must also be committed to ensuring the safety of our young athletes and coaches. Practice is extremely necessary at all levels of the football league to properly condition the athletes to avoid injuries during the games. The early sunset in the late fall necessitates lighting of the town’s fields for practices. It is not sufficient, however, to have temporary lights at football practices if they do not adequately illuminate the playing field to ensure everyone’s safety.
Darien’s Board of Education and Darien Junior Football League are concerned over the inadequate lighting the current 20-foot light pole height provides. Based on the results of the extensive and expensive light study the DJFL was required to conduct in 2010, they would like to raise the height of the temporary lights used at football practices to 30 feet. The test results showed that the higher pole height would allow the light to shine more directly on to the playing field allowing for proper illumination without additional glare and light spillage on neighboring houses.
I too believe we shouldn’t be “thankful” or satisfied with 20-foot temporary lights that are currently allowed if they are creating unsafe practice conditions for Darien players and coaches. If we as a community are committed to having a football program, then it is our responsibility as a town, not just the DJFL’s, to ensure the participants' safety. Raising the pole heights seems to be a simple, logical solution to a potentially dangerous situation and is worthy of consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
DJFL representatives first introduced their proposal to amend a town regulation to allow for the potential to have 30-foot lights in outdoor recreational facilities at the last Planning and Zoning public meeting held in May. The discussion will continue at the next public meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission that is scheduled for June 26th at 8pm at Town Hall. Anyone interested in learning more about the proposal can visit the Darien Junior Football League website to find FAQ’s and additional information regarding the P&Z meeting held last May.
Editor's note: This is one of two opinion articles favoring the proposal for higher lights on the two football fields (see also: ""). If you would like to add your voice to the debate on Darien Patch, you can add comments below either article or submit your own letter to the editor or op-ed piece to email@example.com. Patch welcomes robust discussion from people representing different sides of any issue.