Light the Way For Safety

If we as a community are committed to supporting the DJFL, we must also be committed to ensuring the safety of our young athletes and coaches by properly lighting the playing fields.

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 darien@patch.com. Patch welcomes robust discussion from people representing different sides of any issue.



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Coley June 14, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Siwanoy, Again thanks for your frank comments. As you state, "Siwanoy is not my legal name" so you can continue to hide behind your "pen name" but I would be nice to come out and identify yourself as to where you live. As to your comment "A field not being properly lined isn't a very big deal unless its for a game", you clearly have never, ever coached football. So to help you understand why a lined field is important, let me explain:
Jim Coley June 14, 2012 at 02:45 AM
1. Football is both a vertical and horizontal game. On the horizontal aspect, 11 players on both side need to know where the boundaries are until make a decision of when to turn up versus stretching out (on offense) or when to collapse versus stretch (on defense.) Lining the field for sidelines is important to establish this. 2. Football is situational game. So it's important to practice both offense and defense in plays that, say, or 3rd and short versus, say, second and long. Lining the field for 5 yard increments is important to establish this. 3. Football is also a game of special teams: a. for extra points, having 5-yard lines to determine how two-point play can be practice is important. b. for kick off and punts, having sidelines for practice assist returners in determining the risk/reward of "cutting it up vs. stretching it out."
Siwanoy June 14, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Mr. Coley, As I said before, I'll be at that meeting at the Town Hall, so I can meet you in person there. Unfortunately due to the hostility my Darien neighbors have shown on these boards I'm not comfortable sharing that info here. I'm sorry you had to type out all that about the lines issue, as you pointed out lines would help for practice, my apologies. Obviously I'm no expert on football, but couldn't the lined field be shared during practice time? I'd imagine football is like many sports in that things like suicide runs, general conditioning, stretches are necessary, perhaps those things can be done on an unlined field. With all due respect, to number 3, i don't see the difference between using cones and having a line for the sideline or to marker to designate 5 yards out from the line of scrimmage. Professional sports teams often use cones to create sidelines or barriers at practices, i'm sure there could be some use for it in a non-professional setting as well. I look forward to meeting with you at the meeting.
Jim Coley June 14, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Siwanoy, I understand your issue on remaining anonymous on the topic having witnessed our own P&Z belittling a future DHS neighbor over his support for the lights at the last meeting, and suggesting he should have a BBQ to get his indoctrination. In my personal opinion there is way to much emotion on this topic and not enough time spent on the facts--those are that the higher temporary lights benefit all DHS neighbors and more importantly, increase safety for both the players and coaches on the playing field. Why anyone would be against a win-win for everyone is beyond me. I have personally reached out to two of the four neighbors whom are against this proposal (there where five but one moved away in the past year) at the DJFL equipment handout this past Tuesday night, and I also extend the same offer to both the Ralieghs and Paul Michalski listed above. If they have legitimate concerns, let us flesh it out behind close doors. I believe as I demonstrated in my letter to the Darien Times and here, the DJFL is willing to be flexible and that we have done so on numerous occasions.
sebastian dangerfield June 14, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Sure siwanoy Can you let me know who you are.. Ill introduce myself. After all, there will be so many people there. YOu are sincere, right? Or is this one of those instances that is "i wasnt being literal" If you are sincere in looking forward to meeting me, please make sure you let me know who Im looking for. If you dont want to meet me--or you say that I should reveal who I am--then you have simply (once again) controverted your own words.


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