BOE to dis­cuss po­ten­tial cross coun­try track for high school

BOE ap­proves gift from Darien Ath­letic Foun­da­tion

The Norwalk Hour - - FRONT PAGE - By Ly­nan­dro Sim­mons

DARIEN — A plan to get Darien High School’s cross coun­try pro­gram its own run­ning course has cleared its first hur­dle with town of­fi­cials.

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion con­di­tion­ally ap­proved the gift from the Darien Ath­letic Foun­da­tion on the con­di­tions both the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion and Parks and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion ap­prove the pro­posal. The de­ci­sion came at its meet­ing Tues­day night af­ter fur­ther dis­cus­sion was given on the course.

The 18,210-foot run­ning path is es­ti­mated to cost $200,000 to $300,000 and would ex­tend around the Darien High School prop­erty and through the Diller prop­erty, which is con­trolled by the Parks and Recre­ation De­part­ment. If ap­proved, the ath­letic foun­da­tion would pay for all de­sign and con­struc­tion costs, ac­cord­ing to foun­da­tion Chair­man Mark May­bell.

Darien High as­sis­tant track coach Jane Ott said the path could be a great ben­e­fit to the team.

“We’re al­ways on the road for com­pe­ti­tion. (The course) could al­low for days of shorter travel,” Ott said, adding the course would be help­ful be­yond just track meets, with the team plan­ning to use it daily for train­ing.

Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Vice Chair­per­son David Di­neen said it was im­por­tant neigh­bors be no­ti­fied of the pro­posal.

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble gift,” Di­neen said. “But in some de­gree that cam­pus is reach­ing its ca­pac­ity in terms of the ca­pa­bil­ity to do stuff from a traf­fic and safety per­spec­tive.”

David Ott, an as­sis­tant track coach at Darien High, said there would only be one or two meets planned a year, adding Ridge­field High School has a sim­i­lar course that runs through the school area. He also ad­dressed the board’s con­cerns of the num­ber of peo­ple at­tend­ing the meets.

“We could suf­fice it to po­litely say we’re not over­run with spec­ta­tors at track meets,” Ott said, jok­ing.

Typ­i­cally four teams par­tic­i­pate in a cross coun­try meet, Jane said, and around 300 to­tal ath­letes could be par­tic­i­pat­ing dur­ing a meet.

As part of the board’s de­ci­sion, In­terim Su­per­in­ten­dent El­liott Lan­don added to the con­di­tions that the run­ning course on school prop­erty will re­main off lim­its to peo­ple who aren’t stu­dents or staff Mon­day through Fri­day dur­ing the school year. This will also in­clude dur­ing sum­mer school hours.

Dogs will not be per­mit­ted on the run­ning course, Lan­don said. The ath­letic foun­da­tion will also pro­vide the gates to sep­a­rate the school prop­erty from the Diller prop­erty, as well as ap­pro­pri­ate sig­nage.

“We’ll get the lan­guage from the po­lice de­part­ment, and when all is said and done we’ll have a great cross coun­try track,” Lan­don said.

The run­ning course pro­posal now goes to the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Ly­nan­dro Sim­mons / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion con­tin­ued to dis­cuss ap­prov­ing a pro­posed cross coun­try run­ning path at their meet­ing on Tues­day. Be­low, David Ott, as­sis­tant track coach at Darien High School, speaks.

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