Darien looks to renew permit for temporary lighting at DHS
After three years of using temporary lights on the athletic fields at Darien High School, the administration is optimistic the permit will be renewed for another three years.
The permit to use six temporary lights a the high school was first approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission in October of 2009. The terms of the permit stipulated the lights could only be used on weeknights from dusk until 6 p.m. from Nov. 7 to Dec. 9 and a report would be filed by the Board of Education within 60 days following the last use of the lights.
Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone presented his report on the lights to the BOE and said he hopes to put file the necessary paperwork within a month to six weeks to get the permit renewed.
"I think as an overview we've tried to work very closely with the high school administration, with representatives from the community, sports groups and the neighbors around the high school to provide what we can in the best way possible for athletic programs. The Darien Junior Football League has been at times able to work with the high school and district to make use of those lights," Falcone said.
Over the time period between Nov. 7 and Dec. 9 the lights were on for a total of 24 hours spread across 11 days of use, Falcone said. During their use the lights were set at a height of 20 feet except for a test with the lights set at 30 feet. When the lights were set at 30 feet the entire width of the field was illuminated and coaches believed practices could be conducted on the entire field as opposed to only half of the field when the lights were at 20 feet, Falcone said.
"There were some concerns with some of the lighting from neighbors. We tried to angle lights to the middle of the field from both ends to minimize some of the light source from either side. I think that was helpful. We did put drapes along one of the windows on the science wing to minimize glare. We did pursue looking at light shields but the vendors said they couldn't fit shields on the lights. They said we could get different lights that would focus the light more but we would probably need to double the number of lights," Falcone said.
One concern raised by Board member Clara Sartori was how the administration was determining if they were getting current neighbors around the high school because there could be new families in the area who didn't receive emails or letters about the lights. Falcone said the district used updated lists and used neighbors to identify any new families. If anyone wasn't included on the mailing list about the use of the lights, Falcone urged them to get in contact with the high school or administration.
"I don't have an answer to that. I don't think we paid a fee to apply for a permit three years ago, Falcone said.