Bid by Kennedy Catholic in Somers to Field Games Under Lights Advances

SOMERS, N.Y.--LED lights for Kennedy Catholic’s football field got an informal green light last week from the Somers Planning Board.

After a few tweaks to the final plans, expected by next month, the board will likely approve the lights officially at the Sept. 13 meeting, perhaps in time to play some of this season’s home games in the evening. 

Along with the four light stanchions, which will permit the nighttime football games, the school will also put up a building, about 10 feet by 25 feet, to provide bathrooms and a small concession stand. A press box will sit atop the building, which will be almost 11 feet high.

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No community members spoke at the public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 9. The school, off Route 138, is surrounded by more than 60 acres of campus and the Muscoot Reservoir. As a result, its “Friday Night Lights” are not expected to shine through the windows of anyone’s home.

Fred Compton, Kennedy’s director of advancement, said the school had hoped to have the lights in place to start the season.

While that’s not going to happen, he said, the stanchions could be up soon enough to reschedule at least some of this year’s games and play them under the lights.

The town’s Open Space Committee had questioned the lights’ effect on Muscoot wildlife. 

“We are concerned that the location, height and size of the stanchions will significantly impact the reservoir in terms of light pollution,” the committee said in a letter to the Planning Board last month.

That part of the reservoir, the letter said, includes a “sensitive shoreline habitat for water birds and amphibians, all of whom may be negatively affected by artificial nighttime lighting.”

Scott Douglas Allen, the project’s architect, told the board that the lights would have no impact on wildlife. 

“The distance that we are from the edge of the shoreline is 625 feet,” he said. “We believe that obviously the light would probably not travel that distance.”

Pressed by board member Nancy Gerbino for an assurance stronger than “probably,” Allen flatly declared that the light “will not travel that far, except for indirect, reflected light, which will bounce off the canopy of trees and potentially other environmental areas. But there is no direct light that will be hitting the shoreline.”

In addition, under a 2014 state law governing outdoor illumination, lights cannot be projected above the horizontal plane of their fixture. Kennedy’s LED lights, Allen said, will shine only onto the field below, not into the night sky. “That’s why they call it the Dark Sky,” he said, referring to the name of the regulations.

The town’s Bureau of Fire Protection asked that the concession stand include a landline telephone for emergency calls.
Kennedy Catholic competes in the New York area’s Catholic High School Athletic Association, many of whose teams already play under the lights, so the Gaels are familiar with nighttime gridiron action. All told, the school fields teams in two dozen varsity sports.

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