A trench in the works: construction left bleachers off limits for fireworks
Fireworks organizers were surprised by a trench dug in front of the bleachers on the Darien High School turf field ahead of the Sunday night event.
The fireworks were moved from Saturday to Sunday night due to thunderstorms.
According to Planning & Zoning Chairman John Sini, he was contacted by First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and Selectman and fireworks organizer Susan Marks Saturday morning when they discovered the trench, part of the ongoing permanent lights construction.
In an email to Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner, Board of Education Chairman Michael Harman, copying Marks, Stevenson and Planning & Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg, Sini pointed out that the Board of Ed is responsible for the “care/custody/maintenance/control of the schools facility.”
A photo of the trench was included along with the email.
“While I am extremely encouraged to see the lights and turf project project progress with such speed, there was the expectation that the Stadium could be used for the fireworks viewing as it has been in the past. Clearly, based on this picture, that will be a challenge,” he said.
“After a couple phone calls, I've been told there was virtually no communication/coordination between those that were running the fireworks effort and the administration discussing the status of the projects and the potential safety issues that would be involved due to construction,” Sini added.
Sini also said that since further high school construction is expected next summer with the cafeteria project, “I will be recommending that the P&Z Commission require a special permit hearing for the fireworks on an annual basis going forward.”
“The process will ensure communication among town leaders going forward,” he said.
In an email to The Darien Times Sunday morning, Marks said “the fireworks will be a great community event.”
“We have been up at DHS today and worked very closely with The Darien Police, Darien school personal, and DAF to ensure the safety of all that attend the fireworks. We will not be using the bleachers but will have plenty of seating on campus!” she said at the time.
In an email to The Darien Times, Sini said “candidly, for years it's been discussed among many community members that the BOE and its past and present administrations have had challenges communicating and working collaboratively with other Town officials. I believe this instance was a symptom of a broader, ongoing issue.”
Sini added that he was confident the current situation will “harness this communication breakdown as a catalyst for positive change”
He said he looks forward to assisting in finding a solution so “something like this never happens again, and more importantly, ensure our town leaders work more effectively with each other.
The weather turned out much better for Sunday night's fireworks after Saturday's postponement.