WESTPORT, Conn. Hoping to make Friday night football games a reality in Westport, the Staples High School Gridiron Club , parents and others supporters of Staples athletics are teaming up to tackle the costs of installing permanent field lights.
I think nighttime games will be great community events, said Patrick Kelly, president of the Gridiron Club. Its tough as a parent or fan when we play on the road and see how great these games are in other communities.
Last year, the Board of Education, Planning and Zoning Commission and Representative Town Meeting the towns legislative body all approved a legal agreement between the town and Staples neighbors to allow the installation of permanent lights. This agreement, called a stipulation of judgment, put to rest a lawsuit filed in 2009 that prevented the town from installing permanent lights.
For the lights to finally be installed, the Planning and Zoning Commission must approve a special permit and site plan, which the Board of Education is presenting during a public hearing March 15. And money is needed. Thats where the Staples Stadium Fundraising Committee comes in, Kelly said.
Looking to create a more complete stadium experience the entire community can enjoy, the committee isnt stopping at just raising funds for the lights. Kelly said the committee is also raising money to cover costs of building a new concession stand, complete with handicap accessible bathrooms.
The concession stand is just a disgrace. Its falling apart, he said. Its not a clean or safe place to be serving people from. Also, theres no bathroom facility just porta potties. And we think its time to address both those issues as well and give the community a clean, healthy and fun place to watch these events.
Hoping to have both projects completed in time for the fall season, Kelly said the committee is aiming to raise $600,000 by mid-May.
As both projects will benefit more than just the football program, Kelly said community support is rolling in so far. One big supporter, he said, is the Westport Police Athletic League .
The programs that kids enjoy through PAL are feeder programs for the high school teams, when they get there, Westport PAL President Sam Arciola said. These field improvements will benefit all the future high school athletes as well as current ones, he stressed.
For more information about the projects or to donate, visit the Stadium Fundraising Committee website . Donations of all levels are welcome and can be made online or by printing out a mail-in form.
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