Keith Simpson

Recent Articles

‘Waveny Meadows’: Conservancy Seeks Special Permit in Dramatic Transformation of Cornfields Area

After earning unanimous support from three separate town bodies, members of the Waveny Park Conservancy have applied for a special permit for a project that’s expected to transform dramatically a long-disused corner of one of New Canaan’s cherished areas. The nonprofit organization’s plans for “the cornfields” in Waveny’s southeastern corner require special permit approval under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations because the work will involve soil disturbance of more than 10,000 square feet—about 30 times more. A part historically of the cleared farmland that composed much of Waveny prior to the town’s acquisition of the land in 1967, the cornfields area had been a wildflower meadow largely left alone until several years ago, when it was leveled to serve as a staging ground for material dredged from Mead and Mill Ponds, according to an application filed on behalf of the conservancy by local landscape architect Keith Simpson, a board member of the group. “The Waveny Park Conservancy, and its donor partners, is proposing to improve the cornfields into an area of passive recreation with open meadows, trails, and other wildlife enhancements,” Simpson wrote in a description of the project that forms part of the application. “There are several steps that must occur to achieve the desired goals.”

Those steps include using excavation machinery to remove a highly invasive grass called ‘phragmites’—stalks and root systems alike—and re-grading the entire area. Continue Reading →

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‘Pop Up Park’ Organizers Eye Extended Summer Season Downtown

The organizers of New Canaan’s ‘Pop Up Park’ downtown will seek permission to run it continuously from July 16 to Sept. 4. If approved by the Police Commission, the dates—from just after the Sidewalk Sale through Labor Day—would expand by several weeks the longest continuous run for the Pop Up Park, which was in place for three straight weeks last August. Tucker Murphy, an advisor to the Pop Up Park Steering Committee from the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, said many visitors were disappointed last year when the park—located on South Avenue between Morse Court and Elm Street—was disassembled before what turned out to be a beautiful Labor Day weekend. The committee is “trying to build upon last year while still recognizing that some of the merchants and some people have concerns about traffic flow,” Murphy said. Continue Reading →

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Parks Officials by 9-0 Vote Support Waveny Park Conservancy’s Plans for Trails, Cornfields

Parks officials last week voted unanimously to support three major projects that an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to Waveny Park has slated for this calendar year. The Waveny Park Conservancy plans in 2017 to create and improve trails at the cherished town park that ultimately will give pedestrians a high-quality surface that runs from the South Avenue entrance to the western parking lot up at the main house, officials with the organization said during the Feb. 8 Parks & Recreation Commission meeting. Additionally—thanks largely to a $300,000 grant from the Jeniam Foundation, established by the late Andrew Clarkson—the organization is seeking to comb through a 7-acre site in the southeast corner of Waveny in order to remove a highly invasive grass called ‘phragmites,’ according to Keith Simpson, a local landscape architect and member of the conservancy’s board. Though the conservancy will stay away from chemical treatments to abate the phragmites that already have taken root in ‘The Cornfields,’ “if we get them down to a really minor amount, we might be able to spot-treat that,” Simpson told the commission at the meeting, held in Lapham Community Center. Continue Reading →

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‘A Full Rich Experience’: Conservancy Reviews History of Waveny Park, Future Plans

Perhaps the most important step taken by the last family to own privately what is today known as Waveny Park was in hiring the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design its grounds and gardens, a local expert said Wednesday. Led by the Brooklyn-born founder of Texaco Oil Company, the Lapham family not only built Waveny House but oversaw creation of the carefully cultivated area immediately around it, including the walled garden, according to Keith Simpson, a New Canaan-based landscape architect. Yet since New Canaan acquired the property in 1967, its main house, outbuildings and grounds all have needed regular repair and upkeep, such as when Simpson and the Garden Club restored the walled garden east of the prominent brick structure in 1982. “But it’s only a small area,” Simpson told more than 100 listeners gathered in the Visitors Center at the New Canaan Nature Center for an hour-long talk on the cherished public park. “More places need attention. Continue Reading →

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‘A Marvelous Destination’: Waveny Park Conservancy Pursues Project at Cornfields; Tailgate Fundraiser To Be Held Saturday

An unsightly clearing in the southeastern corner of Waveny, laden with an invasive grass species grown out of the dredged material that in recent years has been piled there, is to be transformed into a newly landscaped and inviting destination, according to a nonprofit organization that’s taken on the restoration and beautification of the park. (more…) Continue Reading →

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