The following is an open letter to the Darien Community:
The Darien Junior Football League would like to express its deep appreciation for your overwhelming support for the use of practice lights at the Darien High School Stadium Field and Town Hall's Holahan Field this past season.
As a result of a change in Darien's zoning regulations, for the first time we were permitted to raise the portable lighting units' towers to 30-feet (from 20-feet) in order to increase their safety and effectiveness while limiting any perceived trespass light to surrounding properties. The DJFL did its best to manage the use of the practice lights at both facilities -- the usage was limited to late in the season and was diligently controlled and logged when they were turned on and off. We also directed the lights away from surrounding properties, covered the windows at DHS with shades (with assistance from DHS staff) in order to eliminate any perceived reflection, and installed sound barriers around the units at Holahan Field to minimize any potential noise impact from the generators that are used by those three units.
While two complaints were logged by two neighbors who have opposed lights use at the Stadium Field since their use began five years ago, the Planning and Zoning Department did not report any violations related to the lights usage at either location. However, the DJFL Board continues to welcome the community's constructive feedback and ideas.
For the second year in a row, our two 8th grade teams walked away as FCFL co-champions while many other DJFL teams also enjoyed very successful and safe seasons. Just as importantly, the practice lights at the DHS Stadium Field also helped the high school's fall teams properly prepare in a safer practice environment as the natural light diminished late in their seasons.
Of course, the 30-foot portable and temporary light units that are currently being used do not represent an optimal solution for our town. This is especially problematic since Darien now houses state's youngest population, has one of the highest youth and student sports participation rates in the country, yet now finds itself as the only community in Fairfield County without a permanent field lighting solution in place. We are hopeful that members of our community will be successful reaching a compromise for permanent field lighting in the foreseeable future.
We are very thankful for you voicing your overwhelming support for providing a safer practice environment for Darien’s youth and student athletes. We will ask for your continued support later this year when we will have to pursue a similar special permit for the use of temporary and portable lights at both locations.
Jim Coley & John Sini, Jr.
on behalf of the DJFL Board, Coaches, Parents, & Players