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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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DAF turf fields head to RTM

Published 1:26 pm, Thursday, May 8, 2014
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The Darien Athletic Foundation has one last group to impress before its $4 million gift for turf fields finally can be accepted by the town. The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed to accept the fields Monday, and now the presentation of the gift heads to the Representative Town Meeting.

The DAF seeks to turf three fields at Darien High School and improve the junior varsity softball stadium. Each field would cost an estimated $1 million. Next year, the DAF plans to turf two fields at Middlesex Middle School. However, even if the fields are accepted by the RTM -- which must approve gifts to the town exceeding $10,000 -- the installation of the fields could be delayed.

Darien resident Paul Michalski filed a lawsuit April 29 against the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Board of Education and the Town of Darien. In the complaint, Michalski asks the court to invalidate the April 8 approval because Michalski believes P&Z commissioner John Sini Jr. had a conflict of interest. The lawsuit also claims the DAF did not adhere to zoning regulations for a special permit.

In the complaint, Michalski claims that Sini was a founding member of the DAF, and mentioned his involvement with the Darien Junior Football League, which is expected to benefit from the Sunny Day Plan. In his complaint, Michalski outlines his concerns that Sini did not recuse himself.

Sini pointed to his March 25 statement at the P&Z meeting: "As a former member of the Darien Junior Football League's board, in 2012, I was among a group of more than a dozen Darien youth sports leaders that were involved in the preliminary brainstorming sessions related to the creation of a not-for-profit that might work to benefit various youth and student sport infrastructure needs in our town," Sini stated. "During this time, I had several discussions with town officials and staff on how such an organization could work within our community and conveyed this input to the group of founders."

Ethan Brecher, an attorney representing a "growing" group of "concerned Darien landowners," told Michalski in an April 30 letter that he will do everything "within the bounds of law" to ensure that his appeal fails and requested that he withdraw it.

Michalski said he has no plans to withdraw the lawsuit.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews