PZC okays field lights at Glastonbury High School's turf stadium
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Sep. 8, 2011
Calling the adjusted hours of operation a “good compromise,” the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the installation of a lighting system at Glastonbury High School's turf stadium with a unanimous vote at the commission’s Sept. 6 meeting. The lighting system will allow the GHS varsity football team to play “Friday Night Lights” football, which is common among other schools in the state. The lights will also be available for other GHS sports teams and youth teams for games and practices.
A presentation by Musco Sports Lighting representative Andrew Dyjak explained that 40 lighting fixtures on four 70-foot-tall poles will illuminate the field and have minimal spillage into the surrounding area, including nearby homes. The lights would have a time limit of 8:30 p.m. on weeknights and 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The lights would not be allowed to be used on Sundays. Usage is expected to include most nights during the fall sports seasons, and some in the spring, especially before Daylight Savings Time.
The Board of Education also recently approved and purchased an upgraded sound system for the field, which will be installed by early October, according to Superintendent Dr. Alan Bookman.
At the public hearing, local residents – both for and against the installation of the lights – made their feelings known.
Seth Jacoby – a former GHS assistant football coach and member of Friends of Glastonbury Sports – said the group, which raised the $300,000 for the turf field itself, supports the lighting system's installation because it will add to the community and allow youth sports teams to have more flexibility. “I would like to echo that some of the youth groups will continue to grow,” he said. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to use it during the weekdays. It would allow those sports groups perhaps that extra hour to have a meaningful practice and allow our community members to use it positively and beneficially.”
Resident Sue Marchinetti said she has volunteered at the concession stands during GHS games - including some night games in recent years, when temporary lights have been brought in - even though she does not have a child who is a player, because she wants to be a part of the community events. “They are fun times,” she said of the night games. “They are a safe, organized way for our high school kids [to have fun], and multiple generations come. I want to be able to see that continue for many more years in our town.”
Hampshire Drive resident Gerrie Andrew said she had concerns, including the effects of the lighting system on the property value of her home. “I spoke to an appraiser,” Andrew said. “It is an issue. Some people will like it, and some will not like it. I just find it hard to envision a potential buyer coming to a realtor and saying, ‘Find me a house near permanent football lights.’”
Control over the field (and therefore the lighting system) usage will be under the Parks and Recreation Department, with first priority given to school teams, and then local youth leagues.
Commissioners were concerned over some of the language of the resolution, which seemed to indicate that the resolution hinged on the schedule of GHS games, and an amendment removed that language, instead keeping the focus on the hour limitations of the lighting system. “I think that's the way we need to go,” said commission member Pat Low. “The Board of Ed. Is certainly free to do what they choose, as far as use of the field by high school athletes. I think we need to be consistent with how we address the subject of lights on fields on town property. I think the motion that had previously been in front of us didn't do that.”