‘Follow Them, Look at Their Car, Get the License Plate’: Parks Commissioner Calls for Self-Policing at Irwin

A town official on Wednesday night called for a renewed effort to self-police Irwin Park, which she said has seen a resurgence in abandoned dog feces. 

Parks & Recreation Commission member Francesca Segalas said during the group’s regular meeting that reporting offenders to police and having them ticketed has worked in the past. Tickets issued to irresponsible dog walkers last year led to less dog waste left behind, Segalas said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “And the tickets happened from two citizens reporting, not from the cops stopping them,” she said. “The dog warden caught them but she caught them on information from the citizen. So we need people to go and kind of look and see and if you see somebody who leaves dog poo behind, follow them, look at their car, get the license plate and text it to me and I’ll take care of it.”

The comments come one year after Parks & Rec formed a committee to tackle the problem and one local woman launched a widely discussed public shaming campaign at Irwin, placing ‘Shame On You’ flags on individual piles of excrement left at the popular park.

Parks Officials Propose Ice Rink in New Canaan

Parks officials are proposing a seasonal, open-aired ice rink in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge. To be used primarily for recreational ice skating and limited sports practice, the rink should be located on town property, preferably in a public park, under a proposal developed by Gene Goodman of the Parks & Recreation Commission. Funded under a public-private partnership similar to the self-sustaining Waveny Pool, the facility would run from late-November through February for two trial seasons in order to gauge public interest, costs and appropriate rink size, and out-of-towners would be charged higher admission fees, according to a summary provided by Goodman, who has led the appointed body’s efforts to study the possibility of a rink for nearly one year. Though the project is too early-stage for the Commission or another town body to ask for funding or formal approval to pursue the rink—that process will require multiple public hearings and sign-off from the selectmen, Board of Finance, Town Council and likely the Planning & Zoning Commission—Parks & Rec members at their Jan. 9 meeting “agreed that this would be a benefit to our town and agreed that we should proceed to next steps,” according to Goodman.

Meet Jack Hawkins, the Newest Member of the Parks & Recreation Commission

The newest member of the town body responsible for advising on public parks and recreational facilities is a commissioned officer with the Army National Guard who has lived in New Canaan for three years. Jack Hawkins introduced himself during the Parks & Recreation Commission’s most recent meeting, noting that he has “moved all around throughout my entire life” between the military and school, though his wife is native of the region. “She is from Manhattan and we have a daughter, she is three years old and we moved to town three years ago,” Hawkins said during the Commission’s Dec. 12 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. 

“So we were looking around—I am kind of analytical, a finance guy—and we were looking around and studying different towns, and we found New Canaan, and the more and more we got to know it, the more we loved it. I’m a frequent user of the parks and recreation, especially with young kids and being in the military and having to live up to our physical fitness standards.”

Hawkins has been appointed to a seat that had been held by longtime Commissioner Jason Milligan, who stepped down, Chair Sally Campbell said.