Parks Officials: 504 People with 701 Dogs Now Registered for Spencer’s Run, Mostly New Canaan

In the fifth year since New Canaan began requiring canine owners to register their pets in order to use the dog run at Waveny, 504 people have done so, officials said this week.

Currently, 701 dogs are registered for Spencer’s Run, according to Kit Devereaux, a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission who serves as a liaison to the popular facility located next to the paddle hut.

New Canaanites account for about 56 percent of those with their dogs registered and Recreation Director Steve Benko “has a program that he set up that really is making a difference,” Devereaux said during a regular meeting of the commission, held Wednesday night at Lapham Community Center.

“Dogs dig, as we all know, and then people complain. But Steve has—with dog park money—set up a program where someone comes in and fills the holes and seeds it. And it has been working well.”

Town officials for the current year have budgeted $20,000 in revenue from dog park fees. New Canaan residents pay annual dues of $25 per dog and $15 for each additional dog—nonresidents pay $40 and $15. The registration form includes proof of vaccinations and licensing as well as a liability waiver. Registrants get a code for the locked gate at Spencer’s Run in order to enter.

Benko said the seeding program, which is contracted out, helps Parks Department workers who otherwise would get stuck in holes at Spencer’s Run while mowing it. Holes are filled in twice per month and the park is re-seeded two or three times per year, Benko said.

People who use the park “don’t know how it [the grass] possible comes back year after year,” Devereaux said.

Parks Superintendent John Howe said there are “lots of weeds out there.”

Devereaux replied: “That’s good, as long as it’s green. Weed is good.”

She added that Spencer’s Run, where some users are apt to lodge complaints regularly, is “peaceful” at the moment.

Commission Chair Sally Campbell said: “That’s unusual. That’s great.”

Benko said the contracted work is “not expensive.”

Campbell praised Benko for delegating it.

“At some point you need outside contractors for that reason,” she said. “Because you need consistency and your people are tied up doing other things.”

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