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Westport Lights the Way for Safer PAL Practices

WESTPORT, Conn. – Diminishing daylight will no longer hinder Westport Police Athletic League football practices. On Thursday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a request to install temporary lights on the PJ Romano and Doubleday fields.

Under the request, submitted by the Parks and Recreation Department, a total of six mobile lights will be set up on the two fields, located behind Saugatuck Elementary School, starting next week. These diesel-powered lights will be used only during the week, until 8 p.m., and only for practices.

Because the lights are temporary, they will be in place on the fields every year from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30. When fully extended, the lights will be 30 feet tall.

In 2009, the Parks and Recreation Department sought to have permanent lights installed at the Staples High football field and temporary lights installed at the PJ Romano and Doubleday fields. In the end, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved an amendment that allowed only for permanent lights. Residents living near those fields later appealed that decision to state Superior Court. Since then, the fields have remained in the dark, creating concerns over players' safety.

Not wanting to go another year without lights, the Parks and Recreation Department proposed a change to zoning regulations that would allow for temporary lighting on town-owned school properties. The proposal was unanimously approved Sept. 22 and put into effect Oct. 5, paving the way for the approval of the temporary lighting on the PJ Romano and Doubleday fields.

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