Steve Benko

Recent Articles

‘Drifting Silver Rain with Crackling Tail’: New Canaan Family Fourth Committee Eyes Even More Spectacular Fireworks Show at Waveny

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rivSKA5gpc

Town officials this week approved a $30,000 contract with a Douglassville, Pa.-based pyrotechnic company to put on an even more spectacular fireworks show at the Waveny July 4th event this summer. The Family Fourth is paid for entirely out of private funds, raised mainly through sales of passes as well as generous donations. This year, the town is upping its contract between the recreation director and International Fireworks Mfg. Co. from $25,000 to $30,000—partly a step increase after the former price had been held for nearly 10 years, and partly because “we decided we wanted to add a few more things to the show and make it a more exciting show,” Recreation Director and Family Fourth Committee member Steve Benko told the Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting. Continue Reading →

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Town To Vote Tuesday on Contract for Elm-to-Irwin Sidewalk; Dog Waste a Persistent Problem at Park

Town officials on Tuesday will vote on whether to approve a $127,748 contract with a Norwalk-based construction company to create a long-discussed new sidewalk that will run from the top of Elm Street to the entrance of Irwin Park. Approved by the Town Council in the fall, the sidewalk will be anchored by crosswalks at either end and run about 5,000 feet along the west side of Weed Street. About six trees fronting the road have been tagged for removal. The Board of Selectmen at its March 21 meeting will vote on a contract between the town’s Department of Public Works and M. Rondano Construction. Meanwhile, parks officials say they’re facing a recurring and persistent problem at Irwin: Dog waste. Continue Reading →

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Facility, Furniture and Landscaping Improvements Coming to Waveny Pool This Summer

Waveny Pool in the 2017 season will see facility upgrades, new furniture, improved landscaping and schedule adjustments designed to meet the wishes of permit-holders who go there through the summer months, officials said. Town officials are addressing concerns about muggy locker rooms and privacy in bathrooms, and the fees generated by the sale of permits also are funding the purchase of new umbrellas and chairs, according to Sally Campbell, chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission. A committee that helps oversee Waveny Pool has met five times since last season and “we have made extensive list and I think we have made huge progress and it’s just going to be great,” Campbell said during the group’s regular meeting, held March 8 at Lapham Community Center. “The big complaints were that the bathroom doors didn’t close, it was too muggy in the locker room and they felt it should be cleaned more. And Steve [Benko] was able to address all of those, and so I think this year people are going to be able to have a much better experience. Continue Reading →

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Traditional Japanese ‘Cherry Blossom Festival’ Coming April 30 to Mead Park

Officials last week voted unanimously in favor of allowing an area organization dedicated to building knowledge and mutual understanding between Japanese and Americans to hold a “cherry blossom festival” next month at Mead Park. The Japan Society of Fairfield County’s traditional festival is to be held 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 30 following an 8-0 vote from the Parks & Recreation Commission. New Canaan resident and society board member Jackie Alexander said the cherry blossom festival—or “Sakura Matsuri”—is “a century-old Japanese tradition to celebrate spring when the cherry blossoms bloom.”

“It happens to be [the society’s] 30th anniversary, so we would like to do a Sakura Matsuri at Mead Park to share Japanese culture and open it to the public,” Alexander said at the meeting, held in Lapham Community Center. “It’s a family friendly event, with some music and some crafts.”

To include bonsai flower arranging and perhaps also a karate demonstration, the festival will be held in the colonnade, overlooking Mead Pond. The Japan Society of Fairfield County—founded in 1987 in Greenwich—also will donate a cherry tree to Mead Park, Alexander said, and is seeking a representative from the Consulate General of Japan in New York to attend a dedication ceremony. Continue Reading →

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Garden Club Wants To Use Irwin Park (Including Barn) for May Flower Sale, Officials Report

One of New Canaan’s longest-serving nonprofits is planning a spring flower sale at Irwin Park, though just where on the Weed Street property the organization will be able to hold the event is an open question, town officials said Wednesday. The New Canaan Garden Club would like to “open the barn up” at Irwin for the planned May 20 sale “and sell the flowers in the barn and people who are in and out from [youth] baseball could come in the afternoon,” Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Sally Campbell said during the group’s regular monthly meeting, held in Lapham Community Center. “But I think there is going to be a challenge with the barn, because it is not safe at this point.”

The comments came during an update from Campbell on special events planned for New Canaan parks. Recreation Director Steve Benko said that in speaking directly to Judy Neville—a member of the Garden Club’s Irwin Park Committee—he flagged other logistical problems for the Saturday planned for the flower sale. “I explained to Judy that with baseball’s zoning permit, they cannot even start until 9 o’clock in the morning, so that means they won’t start their first games until 9:30 and when you get baseball there you talk about getting 60 cars for the first set of games and another 60 cars for the second set of games, and she was all about having an ice cream truck and food truck to keep the parents there to buy plants, and my problem is if we don’t turn over cars every 45 minutes.”

If the event were to start a bit later—closer to midday, and run to about 4 p.m., Benko said—then “that may be OK because baseball is probably done around 12 p.m.”

Campbell asked Benko whether permits are needed for food trucks to operate in the public parks. Continue Reading →

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