This past summer, the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) voted 3-2 in favor of adding locker rooms, a new sound system, and new lights up over Darcey Field. This decision was a crucial stepping stone for the plan to renovate Darcey Field, yet the fight for lights is far from over. The town did not permit the construction of lights until enough funds were raised. That is when the Wellesley Field Fund launched its campaign to raise 1.5 million dollars to cover the cost of all the renovations.
The plan will include a new lighting system, which will allow athletes to play night games, as well as a new sound system, locker rooms, bathrooms, and a concession stand. Leading the charge is Mr. Jerry Nigro, a Wellesley community member and youth sports coach. Nigro participated in the effort to renovate Darcey in 2015 and is back again to try and make a positive change in the community.
“We have waited a couple of years for the opportunity to put lights up. We have seen the positive impact that the field has had on not just the high school, put the whole community, and the lights will further allow us to come together,” said Nigro
Talk of lights began back in 2015 when talks of renovating Darcey were just beginning, yet the Wellesley Natural Resource Commission voted against the lights. Mr. Jay McHale, Chair of the NRC cited several reasons.
“When talk of renovation began, there was a big question on whether to add lights or not. Newton North had just gone over budget on renovations of their school and field and ultimately scared some community members from agreeing to the lights,” said McHale.
The town renovated the turf and track and agreed to revisit the topic of lights at a later date, and six years later, the NRC approved the construction of the lights. This decision has been a long time coming, especially for student-athletes like Darren Jimenez, ’24, who plays football for the high school.
“I think the lights are important because sports are a part of many kids’ lives in WHS, and being able to play night games would be electric,” said Jimenez.
Concerns for the lights have been prevalent since the idea began to service in 2015. Locals expressed concerns for the environment and local wildlife and the impact that putting these lights up would have on the wildlife surrounding them. The NRC ensured that environmental issues, as well as traffic, noise, visual impact, and pedestrian safety, were considered when curating the plan. Feedback from neighbors was crucial in the processes, and the NRC worked diligently to accommodate their needs.
On September 13, a final update was released by the school committee regarding Darcey Field. The lights on the field will be for the high school only, and there will be a limit of fifteen-night games, which will not be inclusive of playoff games or six night practices. The lights will go on as-needed basis to complete shoulder season day games and practices and will also be used for the high school’s graduation. Any additional field use will be subject to the NRC’s discretion.
The plan will not only light up Darcey Field but also replace the lights over the Hunnewell Field in exchange for the more energy-efficient Musco lights, the same lights would be placed over Darcey.
Nigro emphasized that community backing will be key in getting the lights up,
“We will be able to install the lights in six to eight weeks, so the sooner we receive funding the sooner we can put them up. If all ends of the community chip in we will be able to tackle this.”
The goal is to have funding raised by Thanksgiving to have the lights up by the spring. Nigro urges all members of the community to do what they can to support so we can create a stronger bond as a community.
See Ben Galligan ’23’s article on the lights in November 2021 here.