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30-Foot Lighting Proposed for Football Practice

Schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone is proposing that night lights for Darien High School football team practice be set 10 feet higher—to 30 feet, and he wants a five-year permit.

Lights for after-dark football practice—something neighbors of the school —would be set 30 feet from the ground and be used starting the first Monday in November under a new plan put before the Board of Education.

That would raise the height of the lighting by 10 feet, potentially making it more visible by neighbors. The lighting would be used only for football practice from sundown from as early as 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., with the lights turned off by 7 p.m. on weeknights. The lights would be used for three or four weeks.

Schools Superintendent Stephen V. Falcone proposed the five-year plan to the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Wednesday. Falcone expects to get approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission and a formal vote of support from the Board of Education later.

Lighting at 30 feet up rather than the 20 feet would make "very little, if any, noticeable difference in the spread of the lights," Falcone said. Falcone said Thursday morning that he based that conclusion on a 2010 report from Hygenix, an environmental consulting company, and a follow-up "eyeball test" in 2011 by school district officials.

John Sini, representing the Darien Football League board, supported the request and told the Board of Education his organization was asking for a separate permit from the P&Z Commission to put up lights as early as Oct. 15. The league plays at , behind Town Hall. The league's season starts and ends earlier than the high school football season, he told the board.

Sini said his group's application was filed Tuesday with the P&Z Commission and is expected to go before a public hearing on May 22 and a vote by the board on June 6.

Controversial past

According to , Sini said, beyond the edges of the athletic fields, the glow from them was "insignificant in comparison with moonlight on Jan. 6, 2010."

In a memorandum to the board, Falcone wrote:

"In a review of the use of the lights in past years, the lights tested at 30 feet provided for a greater spread across the width of the field without a change to spillage or luminosity. The increase use of turf space as well as the wider spread would increase visibility and reduce the risks of injury."

A January 2009 study of lighting at the high school fields said the droning from diesel generators for the lights was a problem, the lights should be aimed in ways that reduced the glow or "spillage" of light in ways that annoyed neighbors, and something should be done about diesel exhaust.

In response, that plugged into Darien High School's electric service and made adjustments to the positioning and pointing of the lights. The football league adjusted lighting in similar ways.

A three-year pilot plan for lighting and ended in 2011.

Falcone initially asked for a three-year permit, but Sini said his group proposed one for five years. Falcone then said he would ask for the same time period.

Clarification: Schools Superintendent Stephen V. Falcone said a 2010 consultant's report was a major factor in the conclusion that the 30-foot lights wouldn't spread more light beyond the football field, not just the later "eyeball test" by school officials. The fourth paragraph has been rewritten to reflect that.

Charley April 12, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I guess they could be anti lights and reside in the dark. I do know a few older people like that.
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Wow, i'm sure all the neigbors are just ectatic about that comment, can't wait to pass it along to them. We all bought homes next to the high school, which as you know has no lighting. It's very different then people who bought a house next to a fire house, because the horns were already there when they moved in. You're just making this harder and harder on you're cause. The neighbors are more then willing to work out an agreeable solution to both sides, its up to "you guys" to hold up your end of the bargin.
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 07:55 PM
You can't understand the difference inbetween the lights they use and a house light? Really?
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
On a side note, the soccer field in the loop does have the old parking lot light shining on it, they should use that field as well.
Charley April 12, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Like I originally said, sooner or later move on or pass on. I didn't make any deal with you people. At this point I could care less what you guys want, as much as you don't care what the rest of the town wants. Darien will still be here in 20 years and will have stadium lights, get over it.
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Darien has never had a townwide vote about lights at DHS, so how is it that you know the "rest" of the town wants them? Most of the town actually wants to see a reduction in spending actually.
LJ April 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I completely disagree that lights will make these problems worse. In fact, I would argue the traffic patterns and parking problems around the school/fields would be alleviated with lights. Right now you have countless boys/girls youth programs trying to shoehorn practices and games in a finite amount of time (ie. when the sun's out). Lights would give programs more flexibility. (And don't even get me started on field space in this town, which is a COMPLETE joke). The problems you are highlighting are a result of living near a school, which I'm assuming most homeowners realized when they bought the house (yellow vehicles cruising by filled with kids???). BUT- if you are telling me your requests of the school are falling on deaf ears, and if that were not the case then there would be more "flexibility" to discuss the lights issue- then we are getting somewhere.
Charley April 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I can help you and your neighbors with real estate 101, location, location, location. Like I said, the next generation will be more intelligent and informed.
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Thats a good point that all the practices are jammed in during the daylight hours, to be honest, I hadn't really thought about it like that, so thank you. I would however, counter that to say that while traffic congestion would be less, the amount of traffic would be the same, but spread out, thus having more constant traffic. 100% agree that the field space in this town is an utter joke. As a neighbor of the highschool, we were given all the plans for the proposed high school designs, they chose the one with the least amoutn of parking & field space! (I'm sure there are more considerations then just those 2.. but still) I have no issue with school buses waking me up every morning, they acutally arrive more or less the time I need to get up anyway so it serves as a back up to my alarm haha. Our request have falled on deaf ears unfortunatly. The trials we've been having for the past few years with the lights are so the neighbors can assess how much it might change the light going into their back yard / traffic etc. (although i will say those most affected by the lights don't live on the 3 roads leading to the highschool, so really we have some neighbors that will have noise/light complaints, and others with traffic/litter ones, making it a little bit more complex then most realize)
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 08:17 PM
continued... I really think barrier trees would be very helpful, unfortunatly when they built the new HS, they took down most of the ones around the fields, as well as near the old tennis courts. So sure we can plant new ones, but unless they spend alot of money (which we don't have sadly) the trees won't be as tall as the older ones that would have provided some blocking of the light.
Charley April 12, 2012 at 08:18 PM
The cost for the balance of the lighting system would be privately funded within weeks. The Stadium is already wired. Bring it on.
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I was a varsity athlete for 10 seaons at DHS, i LOVED my time there, and enjoyed going to a bunch of different games and sports. I want DHS to be a state powerhouse in all sports, it would give me great pleasure to be honest. I just think that if we want to put lights there, (and I have 0 issue with them putting in real stadium lights.. which would lead to night games, as well as night games where both teams aren't from darien) we should be considerete to the neighbors. I don't think the requests are unreasonable, and honestly, do "we" need to have all of them, probably not, but compromise is two way street.
Siwanoy April 12, 2012 at 08:21 PM
You are exactly the reason why neigbors put up a fight, its people like you that ruin it.
LJ April 12, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Well, you are confusing issues. Safety was NOT brought up as "a reason to have lights" (your words). Safety was brought up as a reason to install TALLER temporary lights. The reason to have lights is so the Fall athletic programs (ALL of them) can have a practice longer than 40 minutes when Halloween rolls around.
Charley April 12, 2012 at 08:47 PM
The cost for the balance of the lighting system would be privately funded within weeks. The Stadium is already wired. Bring it on.
Jim Coley April 12, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Siwanoy, speaking on behalf of the DJFL as it President, we have a multi point plan to increase safety including concussion resistant helmets, CPR training, concussion training, etc. Happy to discuss offline on my cell: 203-559-7899. Jim Coley
sebastian dangerfield April 13, 2012 at 01:31 AM
siwanoy--are you saying that you are a homeowner --near the high school, and that you bought unaware there was a high school there? Or that events are held after dark sometimes? If they have a basketball game --then all your complaints do not exist? Or a concert? How do you reconcile all of this? Are you also protesting hockey games at the ice rink? Or morning swim practices at the Y? Or is it just about you? How long ago did you buy your home?
John Sini April 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Siwanoy, over the three years the DJFL has used the temporary lights at both DHS and Holahan Field, not once has a complaint been logged for the lights being on later than the special permit allows. Moreover, there have been 75 evergreen trees added as screening on the northern border of the DHS property by the stadium field. Feel free to contact Jim Coley or me if you'd like to discuss this further.
Siwanoy April 16, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Luca, i won't respond to any of your post on any threads that contain all sentences ending in question marks. This isn't post a bunch of questions, this is post a comment about the article.
sebastian dangerfield April 16, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Cool Sinawoy Yeah--thats because you got caught in your web of lies. Nice day. Haha.
sebastian dangerfield April 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM
1) you dont own a home 2) you dont care about any nighttime activities , or early morning activities as long as they are not in your neighborhood. --Therefore, all your points are simply trying to protect your parents' house value. Sure there are concerts and other activities at DHS- and your parents were fully aware when they bought, that there was a high school near your property. But, now they want to invoke some messed up threat of litigation and how there were assurances of no lights at DHS. Which of course is utter nonsense. Now we have a kid who lives with his parents telling everyone else what they need to put up with, so that he and his parents dont have to put up with games. On other threads its all about what makes sense for society at large. Here , however, its about a limited number of people----what happenned to solving societal woes and speaking in generalities? Ahhh--i guess it doesnt have to work that way, if you feel like you might be put out. 19,750 will benefit, but 500 will not. So now we need to focus on the minority , rather than the majority. Why not just distill your position into "Im self -centered" and I can think of all sorts of ancillary reasons that thinly support my position, but the truth is, Im just looking out for myself. At least, then you'd be honest.
Siwanoy April 16, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Luca, you weren't even able to understand that I actually want the lights at the high school, so why should I even waste my time with you? Look forward to seeing you at the next meeting at the town hall about this, I'll see you there, can't wait.
sebastian dangerfield April 17, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Siwanoy, You are correct. I was not able to understand that you want lights at the high school. Here are your statements: "We don't even have lights, yet these problems exist." Siwanoy: "Exactly, they will only get worse with lights. Just so I know, when you will be speaking in favor of the lights at the meeting, what will be your major points? haha ----like I say--your web of lies and duplicity is nauseating. Now you are actually going to say that you are for lights. Wow--Im thinking, that Im not the only one that didnt pick that up? haha.... You cant wait? Really? Why is that?
Siwanoy April 17, 2012 at 03:29 PM
"Just so I know, when you will be speaking in favor of the lights at the meeting, what will be your major points?" - Come to the meeting and you'll know. "your web of lies and duplicity is nauseating" it's your own fault for reading my posts, no one is forcing you to. "You cant wait? Really? Why is that?" Because you love to run your mouth about things you no nothing about, looking forward to meeting you at the next meeting Luca.
Siwanoy April 17, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Luca, to respond to your comment that hasn't made it up on here yet.. I never said I would "do" anything, i just said i looked forward to talking about it at the next meeting, if you think thats "tough guy" talk, fine, but it isin't. "and haha you are going to shut my mouth? haha good one" I never said I was going to shut your mouth. ". The sign of a fake tough guy, is when he tells someone what he will do to them" I never said I was going to "do" something to you. "I grew up in brooklyn, not darien" no one cares, and being from brooklyn dosen't mean you know what a tough guy is any more then anyone else. "hey maybe living in your parents home has made you feel more protected." - maybe it has maybe it hasn't, maybe i live at with my parent maybe I don't, either way you're speaking about someone you don't know, making unverified claims. Luca, if you want to discuss the lights, show up at the next meeting and you can voice your concerns and/or thoughts, and/or listen to mine, as i've stated before.
sebastian dangerfield April 17, 2012 at 06:56 PM
siwanoy? I have no idea what you are talking about? When did I say that?
Siwanoy April 17, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Hi Siwanoy, Luca Duff Cruz also commented on 30-Foot Lighting Proposed for Football Practice. "siwanoy I generally 'no' things about what im talking about. 'you love to run your mouth '-- right dude--and haha you are going to shut my mouth? haha good one. The sign of a fake tough guy, is when he tells someone what he will do to them...just to let you know. I grew up in brooklyn, not darien. The only guys who tell people how tough they are, are the guys who thought talking tough would mean they didnt have to be tough. just a word to the wise.. i never told a person what id do. ..but --hey maybe living in your parents home has made you feel more protected. hahahah" To respond view the comment on Patch.
Charley April 17, 2012 at 08:16 PM
@ Siw, so you are in favor of permanent stadium lights at the DHS?
Siwanoy April 17, 2012 at 08:49 PM
as long as they are available to all residents and not just members of DHS athletics and youth sports programs. I'd also like to see the BOE coming through to help resolve some of the issues i've mentioned above. (they have made some progress, but more could certainly be done, i'm not asking them to reslove ALL the issues... they obviously can't control the fact that DHS's field and parking layout are beyond dumb for example. They could certainly have barrier trees all around the property like they had in the pat for example)
John Sini April 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM
In case you missed it above, as a point of fact, there have been 75-85 evergreen trees planted near the stadium field along the DHS northern property border over the last two years.

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