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Friday, November 11, 2011

After Decades of Talk, ‘Amen’ to Staples Field Lights

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By James Lomuscio

With a unanimous vote tonight, Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) paved the way for permanent lights at the Staples High School athletic field, a move that brings to a close a decades’ long struggle between sports boosters and neighbors.

The approval was of a stipulation agreement involving neighbors who had filed suit in Stamford Superior Court more than two years ago, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Board of Education.

“Congratulations, everybody,” said P&Z Chairman Ron Corwin. “Amen.”

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who spoke before the vote, called the agreement “a really historic occasion.”

“The terms of the settlement are fair, and most importantly, the settlement works,” he said.

Joseloff noted that discussions about lights at Staples go back to 1978.

It was not until July 9, 2009, however, that the P&Z approved text amendment 594 allowing permanent lighting for evening practice and Friday night games.

That approval, however, was quickly appealed to the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) by neighbors who argued the lights would spill over onto their homes and bring evening noise from practice and games.

On Sept. 9, 2009, the RTM upheld the amendment. Meanwhile lead petitioners Anne and Edward Gill, had filed a court appeal Aug. 28.

For the past two years, town officials and the plaintiffs have been working on a compromise. On Monday, the school board voted to endorse the agreement.

“In 2004 we had a resolution for lights at Staples with 18 events, and in 2009, we got only 12 events,” said Donald O’Day, school board chairman. “It’s now eight events, but at the end of the day, Friday Night Football is what drove the Board of Education for this approval.”

O’Day also lauded the hard work of town officials who reached the compromise with neighbors.

“We as a community are about to reap the benefits of all their hard work and have a significant improvement at the Staples facility,” he said.

“The terms of the settlement are fair, and most importantly, the settlement works,” he said.

According to Town Attorney Ira Bloom, the compromise will allow lights to shine from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1, and no later than 8 p.m. It also allows them to be used only two Saturday special events.

Bloom also noted that the P&Z approval, which is contingent upon being signed by all parties, will head to a superior court judge to be accepted. Following that, the applicants would have to return to the P&Z for a site plan approval.

“This is a big deal,” said Bloom. “It is something that many people will enjoy in years ahead, and it will be very important to our school system.

“We have been negotiating on this for two years,” he added, thanking the defendants as well as the plaintiffs and their attorney Matthew Mason.

Joseloff said he was “very pleased with the results that have been achieved here.”

“It will allow community activities for our town that people of all ages will enjoy,” he said.

Posted 11/11 at 03:25 AM 

Comments:     Comment Policy

Don’t I remember reading, in 2004 or 2009, that, when Staples was built in a residential zone, it was with the agreement that there would be no lights, ever?

Posted by Stacy Prince on November 11, 2011 at 05:17 AM | #

Excellent! Kudos to a thorough town planning process and a great decision.

Posted by Jeff Kiker on November 11, 2011 at 12:08 PM | #

Ya mean when they get to the championships, again, they can actually play the game on their own field?! 

How cool is that!!

Only for a few hours.

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on November 11, 2011 at 02:04 PM | #

Congratulations to the scores of people that have fought the good fight and have helped make this dream come true. A dream that did start in the late ‘70’s. After the ‘75 State Championship. 

Thank you Paul Lane, Ted Youngling, Earl Smith, Jerry Lubarsky, Marce Petroccio, Dan DeVito, Stuart McCarthy. Thank you to the Nistico’s, all of you!! Thank you Westport PAL members!! Thank you to the original members of the Staples Booster Club. The Staples Grid Iron Club Members.

Some of these folks are still with us and will be able to see their efforts become a reality. However, some of the folks mentioned above and a multitude of others are not and need to be remembered and thanked for not letting this dream ever go away.

I look forward to the opportunity to see those lights “ON” and remember all of those loyal Wrecker fans that worked so hard for so many years to see this through!!

Tom Wall
Staples Class of ‘70

Posted by Tom Wall on November 12, 2011 at 03:40 PM | #

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