NORWALK, Conn. – The lights at a new turf-covered athletic field will be going off a little bit sooner than expected in a move initiated at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting by two East Norwalk council members.
The council voted unanimously to approve the $3.1 million expenditure for an athletic field renovation at Nathan Hale Middle School, reversing last week’s action of the Zoning Commission as they did it. While the commission put an amendment into its approval of the lighting planned for the fields to require that the lights go out at 9:30 p.m., the lights are now approved to go out at 9 p.m., due to an amendment sponsored by Councilman John Kydes (D-District C), Common Councilwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C), Councilman Glenn Iannacone (R-At Large) and Common Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez (D-District A).
This was in response to comments from the neighbors of the field. Richard Kestanbaum was among those who spoke, citing an “enormous potential for abuse” of the rules for the field. Kestenbaum said the plans were completely in violation of the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), which calls for protecting neighborhoods and protecting property values.
Kydes said he had been looking at the project from both points of view as he is a father of two young children, but as a council member he felt the residents’ concerns needed to be addressed. Maggio also said she had children who would use the fields but felt for the neighbors.
“We thought if it would be comparable to sundown on a later, longer day then it wouldn’t really affect the residents with the light as much,” she said, of the 9 p.m. cut-off.
Maggio said an ad-hoc committee would be formed with neighbors to meet with Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee on a regular basis to address concerns of the residents. Committee Chairman Jerry Petrini (R-District D) promised to be accommodating.
“This is just hopefully the beginning of symbiotic relationship between the kids and the neighbors,” Petrini said. “Adjustments may be made at any time… if there are any problems in the future we will discuss it.”
“You are a man of your word and I believe you when you say that if neighbors in the area have some issues they will be addressed,” Kydes said.
Mayor Harry Rilling addressed the audience.
“One thing I have learned in my tenure is that even though the neighbors come and perhaps the vote doesn’t go in the way that you wish you would go… I am really impressed with the council members who truly take to heart what the public says,” Rilling said. “It is factored into all their decisions.”