Darien schools want to expand lights, games at high school field

Joan S. Reed

DARIEN — The school board is eyeing an expanded use of the stadium lights at Darien High School now that a five-year agreement that mandates which days and times the lights could be used is drawing to an end.

In 2017, stadium lights were installed at Darien High School after the Board of Education negotiated an agreement with nearby residents and multiple agencies in town, including the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Now, that agreement — which stipulates practice and game times in the stadium — is up for renewal. The school board is looking to apply for a revised special permit before the Zoning Board with changes that would allow them to lengthen the amount of time the lights would be on and increase the number of night games held in the stadium.

“The key is continuing to be a good neighbor while managing fields … and look to see that we can maximize the use of those fields and the investment that we’ve made in those fields,” board chair David Dineen said during a recent school board meeting.

The school board has until May 10 to decide what changes it will seek from the revised special permit. The matter then passes to the Planning and Zoning Board, which will hold a public hearing sometime in June, Dineen said in an April 26 meeting.

Under the current agreement, each DHS varsity team can play two games under the lights per season, plus playoff games. The lights must be shut off by 7:30 p.m. most weeknights and by 10 p.m. for a Friday night game.

Games typically start at 5:30 p.m. during the week and at 7 p.m. on Fridays in order to wrap up before those cutoff times, according to athletic director Chris Manfredonia.

Under the revised special permit, sports teams would be able to hold games under the lights until 8 p.m. during the week, while keeping the 10 p.m. cutoff on Fridays.

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