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COLONIE: Darkness for Siena field

Siena College has been denied a variance to install four 90-foot light poles to illuminate its brand-new synthetic athletic field.

By a vote of five to two, the Colonie Zoning Board of Appeals members denied the poles at a Thursday, July 5 meeting. It ended a six-month-long battle between the college and residents of Loudonville who argued the poles would adversely affect the character of the historical hamlet.

We regret the decision. We thought we presented a case that had merits, said John D'Argenio, Siena's athletic director.

The board thought otherwise, he said.

The college invested much money and time, more than a year between planning and zoning board hearings, to get the 90-foot poles, he said. The case had always been that the new lights were needed to give the college a state-of-the-art, and NCAA compliant, lighted field to remain competitive and to attract student athletes to the private college. But for the students already wearing school colors, the hope was to provide a more flexible game and practice schedule by extending athletic hours as late as 9:30 p.m.

In its conference many schools have installed new athletic fields with similar lighting to the sought variance, said D'Argenio. Without the 90-foot lights, the school won't be able to meet the necessary lighting to play varsity sports such as lacrosse at night.

Regulations require adequate lighting in order for athletes to track the ball that can travel as fast as 100 mph.

The school will have to fall back on its schedule of morning practices and daytime games, except for those away and under the lights, said D'Argenio.

The college already has board approval to install eight 40-foot light poles and will begin meeting with engineers to establish a timeline for completion. The 40-foot lights will allow the college to expand the hours of its intramural athletics and play games at night. School administrators will also talk to see what can be done to further pursue the 90-foot towers.

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