ON 10/23 NORWALK HOUR REPORTER WRITES ABOUT LIGHTS FOR PAL. THE ARTICLE IS TITLED WESTPROT'S YOUNG GRIDDERS LEFT IN THE DARK.
Dear PAL Football & Cheerleading Families,
As you are well aware, The PAL Football and Cheerleading Program put in an application (through Parks & Recreation Department) for the use of temporary lights at the PJ Romano & Doubly Day Field. PAL Football & Cheerleading requested the use of Temporary Lights in order for the kids in our program to be able to practice in a safe environment. The PAL Football and Cheerleading Program has grown and each year it has become more and more difficult for the kids to safely practice with the limited space and diminishing natural light. Our Program currently has 11 tackle football teams, 12 flag football teams and 6 Cheerleading squads for a total of aprox. 450 children.
There is a need for the lights due to the expansion of children in our community and our program. There has been a change in the community, the school itself has been renamed and made into an elementary school. Due to the enlarged enrollment of children town wide, the recreation programs have all expanded. There is a shortage of fields as it is. Our program is limited to use of this field because we has sleds, tacking dummies and other equipment that we use that cannot be transported to other fields. The need to expand the use of the fields by providing artificial lighting will ensure that our kids will continue to be able to practice in a safer environment where they will be able to see one another and the ball( reduce potential for injury).
Also, we have a turf field at that facility (which the program helped pay for) that provides a safer field for the kids to play on, much less reduces the problem of playing in geese excrement. We are not asking for a change in use, just the ability to use the field for a longer period of time to replicate daylight time that the fields are already used for during August and September.
As part of the community and listening to the concerns of the surrounding neighbors, we moved equipment away from the houses, voluntarily stopped the use of our PA system for play by play descriptions of our games, spread out our practices during the week, and had coaches reduce the use of whistles during practices. We also researched the noise of the Temporary Lights and would have rented lights that produced a noise level that is not greater than a common lawn mower.
Since most of our coaches are volunteers and work during the day and that the High School sports teams are now using our facility, it is impossible to start all of our practices prior to 5 or 5:30PM.
On the advice of the town officials, we were directed to put in an application to the ZBA. The ZBA was not sure if the could rule on the use of temporary lights based on the regulations at hand, ALTHOUGH, THEY APPROVED THE USE OF TEMPORARY LIGHTS IN THE PAST AT STAPLES HIGH SCHOOL. The ZBA needed clarification.
Below is a statement from the Parks and Recreation Department regarding our application for temporary lights.
At this time, THE ZBA decided not to hear our concerns and address the issue. As a result of this, our children will practice in an unsafe environment.
We did not ask for permanent lighting at our field, we did not ask for football games to be played under the lights, we did not ask for concerts or festivals to be allowed at the facility, all we asked for is the children of Westport be allowed to participate in a positive activity in a SAFE manor.
WE ENCOURAGE EACH OF YOU TO CONTACT THE FIRST SELECTMAN, ZBA AND P&Z AND ANY OTHER ELECTED OFFICIAL AND VOICE YOUR DISAPOINTMENT AT THE TOWNS DISREGARD FOR THE KIDS SAFETY.
The PAL Football & Cheerleading Board of Directors will be holding meetings to discuss the future of the Football & Cheerleading Program. Although a grim out look, we will do our best to provide your children with a fun and SAFE experience.
Carmen A. Roda
Westport PAL Football & Cheerleading
The application for temporary lights for the 2008 season at PJ Romano Field is being withdrawn from the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda eliminating the potential for lights for the 2008 season. Despite the best efforts of the administration, we are unable to overcome procedural issues at the Zoning Board of Appeals that also involve the Planning and Zoning Commission. Concerns have been raised whether the duration of this proposal would qualify as a "temporary" situation under the regulations, and a suggestion has been made that we approach the Planning and Zoning Commission for a more comprehensive resolution to this long-term issue. The Planning and Zoning Commission due to other pending applications is unable to hear the issue in a timeframe which would allow the lights for the 2008 season.
At this time we would anticipate incorporating the allowance for temporary lighting into the proposal for changes to the regulations which would allow for permanent lighting at Staples High School. We expect to have the issue before the Planning and Zoning Commission early in the next calendar year.
While I am sure this news is disappointing to the players, parents and volunteers of the PAL Football Program please be assured that the Parks and Recreation Department and the town administration continue to support the use of athletic field lighting to serve the athletic community and will be vigorous in our future efforts to achieve that goal.
Joseloff, Gordon F.
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(D) Ezzes, James C. Chair
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